Geoff Burke-USA Today Sports
With an especially lethal penalty kill The Capitals essentially shut down the Flyers offense last night leading to the Capitals 2-0 victory marking Braden Holtby’s third career playoff shutout. With nine penalties, it was the Capitals effective penalty kill that really made a tremendous difference in this game.Justin Williams said, “They [penalty kills] are essential to your success, we had three early we killed off all three and we scored a power play goal, it makes a difference.” The Capitals, who allowed only two power play goals in the regular season, ranked second in the NHL with an 85.2% penalty kill percentage – their highest PK average since the 2010-2011 season.
The bright shining Capitals defense led directly to a lonely Holtby standing in the goal and very frustrated Flyers. And while Zen master Holtby managed to overcome the challenge of staying focused on the puck, it is obvious by the nine penalties they incurred in the third, that the Flyers were not equally successful.
The Flyers frustrations culminated in a particularly nasty clash between Tom Wilson and Andrew Simmonds with seven minutes left in the third period. Wilson had just taken a boarding penalty for a hit on defenseman Andrew MacDonald when an exasperated Simmonds steps in to defend MacDonald. Simmonds, one of the Flyers most effective scorers, drops his gloves against notorious instigator and Caps fourth line forward Tom Wilson resulting in two majors for both players sending both players to locker room as their finish to Game 1.
Game 1 certainly met expectations of being a hard-fought battle between two quality teams. The Capitals and Flyers next match up is set for Saturday at the Verizon Center.
By Stephanie Judge