The Capitals Easter Sunday night showdown with the Flyers in Philadelphia was well worth the price of admission. It was a wild, back-n-forth game that was terribly entertaining but ultimately very frustrating for Washington. A two-goal lead for the guests with 13 minutes left in the third period evaporated into a 5-4 overtime loss.
Both the Caps and Flyers were busy the previous day. Washington posted a dramatic comeback to nip Buffalo, while Philadelphia slipped past Boston. We weren’t sure how much energy the two sides would display.
The Capitals were determined to start today’s game better than they did an evening ago in upstate New York, and they most definitely did.
Niklas Backstrom put Washington in front at 4:29 of the first period by deflecting a Jack Hillen wrist shot past Ilya Bryzgalov in the Flyer goal.
The Flyers began their disturbing trend of rallying in this game before the first period was complete. Max Talbot jammed home a close-range shot past Caps goalie Braden Holtby at 10:26.
Matt Read put the Flyers ahead on a breakaway at 14:55. He was sprung by a terrific pass from Philly’s top playmaker Claude Giroux. Once clear of the defenders, Read beat Holtby with a snapshot between the leg pads.
Washington waited until nearly the 19-minute mark of the second period to knot the score. Mike Green jumped out of the penalty box and took a smart head-man pass from Brooks Laich all the way to the cage where he chipped a forehand shot over the blocker of Bryzgalov.
The Flyers and Caps were ranked first and second in the NHL in terms of power-play success heading into this clash. Neither team fared well with the man-advantage in the first two periods. Washington went so far as to waste a lengthy 5-on-3 in the opening frame. But all that would change radically in the third.
With the third period almost five minutes old, Caps defender Steve Oleksy crunched Claude Giroux in open ice with what appeared to be a clean but very forceful check. Flyers high-scoring winger Jake Voracek took exception to the hit and immediately jumped in to instigate a fight with Oleksy. Since Voracek wears a protective face-shield he was hit with two minutes for instigating, plus two more minutes for instigating with a shield. Oleksy left the ice bloody from the altercation, but his team had a four-minute power play and they made it pay off.
Marcus Johansson, the recipient of a glaring turnover by Giroux, walked in and beat Bryzgalov on the blocker side to put the Caps in front 3-2.
Alex Ovechkin would follow that marker with one of his own 26 seconds later. The Caps captain pummeled a slapshot past the blocker of Bryzgalov for his league-leading 12th power-play goal and team-leading 18th overall of the season at 6:48 of period three.
No lead was ever safe in this game, and the Caps sudden two-goal advantage would go up in smoke.
Troy Brouwer was nabbed for holding at 12:32 of the period. It took Philly only 16 seconds to convert. Giroux zipped a one-time slapper over Holtby’s glove to give Philly life.
With time winding down late in regulation, the Caps were whistled for an icing call that could easily have been washed out. The linesmen apparently did not see Kimmo Timonen intentionally take a very circular route away from the puck as it slid toward the icing line.
That gave the Flyers an offensive zone draw in the last 30 seconds of the contest. Wouldn’t you know it would be Timonen who hammered home the tying goal with just 10 seconds left in regulation.
The extra-time period would not last long. Timonen capped his four-point game with a perfect slap-pass to Ruslan Fedotenko, who steered home the winning strike at the 1:34 mark beneath the out-stretched leg pad of the Caps keeper.
The Caps will collect themselves on Monday and get ready for a critical division game with the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Please check your local listings to find the game on Comcast SportsNet-Plus.