Joe B: Frantic Finish Foils Caps

Joe B: Frantic Finish Foils Caps
November 21, 2010, 4:30 am
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Saturday, November 20, 2010 11:22 pm

By Joe BeninatiCapitals Play-By-PLay


Tonight's game finished up the same way it began, with the Caps ringing shots off the goalposts and going away unhappy. Philadelphia skated away a 5-4 winner after the shootout round, the culmination of a contest that had a little bit of everything in it.

The Caps showed a lot of energy at the start of the game. Whenever they face the Flyers they appeared to have extra life and anything would have been better than the way things transpired in Atlanta the night before. We charted the Caps for five quality scoring chances in the first five minutes. They were determined to test Philly goalie Brian Boucher, who had not started a game since Oct. 25. Boucher was solid - and he was fortunate.

Alex Ovechkin had Boucher beaten on a breakaway in the opening minutes of play, only to see his shot clang off the post. Tomas Fleischmann was much more visible tonight, and he too would have a golden opportunity in the first few moments, but his finish off a 2-on-0 break went off the side of the net.

Marcus Johansson found himself in the right place at the right time near the eight-minute mark. A good center-lane drive put him right where he needed to be to pierce Boucher, cashing in a good-looking feed from Jason Chimera.

Boucher made three good saves to open the second period, the best of which robbed Fleischmann from the doorstep. That good goaltending prevented Washington from stretching out its lead and led the Flyers right back into the game and the lead.

Claude Giroux has 11 goals this year, nine of them on special teams. His power-play goal tonight was a lucky bounce off his thigh and past Michal Neuvirth.

Crease-crasher Scott Hartnell made a terrific play to give the visitors the lead four minutes after Giroux lit the lamp. Hartnell collected a rebound and threw a blind pass cross the goalmouth to Mike Richards who slammed the puck past a diving Neuvirth.

Jeff Carter improved Philly's lead with his patented snapshot to start what turned out to be a highly-entertaining third period.

Officiating would come into question from both head coaches tonight. Neither Peter Laviolette or Bruce Boudreau were thrilled with calls throughout the game.

The Caps picked up two power-play goals in less than 30 seconds to tie the score in period three. Nicklas Backstrom and Jason Chimera both knocked home rebound attempts and brought roars from the fans that practically took the roof off of Verizon Center.

The good-life was short-lived however. Philly's Andreas Nodl took an excellent pass from James Van Riemsdyk and twisted a backhand between the skates of Neuvirth to give guests the lead again.

The stage was set for a last-minute rally and Eric Fehr would not disappoint. Once again with the Caps on the power-play, and this time with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker, Fehr drilled a pass from Brooks Laich over Boucher's glove to knot the score.

Caps penalty-killers kept hope afloat by nullifying a Flyer man-advantage in overtime. A shootout would wind up deciding this contest. The Caps big three - Backstrom, Ovechkin and Semin would all come up short, while the winning strike was delivered by Danny Briere. The last attempt by Semin had Boucher beat but the goalie's best friend, the goalpost, made the final stop.

The Caps will hit the road for a pair of games before the Thanksgiving holiday. First stop Newark, to dance with the Devils on Monday night.