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Friday night at Verizon Center saw the Capitals play their best game of the series; outplaying the Flyers in every area except scoring, tightening the best of seven series race 3-2 as the Capitals fell to the Flyers 2-0 in game 5. Despite the loss, the Capitals held the Flyers to a mere 11 shots on goal, only five of which were at even strength. “There’s only one stat that matters at the end of the night and that’s the one that’s up on the score board” said coach Barry Trotz and unfortunately, that stat is the one that the Capitals found wanting.
While frustration is an understandable reaction, overall, the team felt fairly positive about the result, “We are playing good hockey” said defenseman Karl Alzer. “Tonight was a good game for us and you can’t be too upset with a good game; just with the result.” As the Caps hammered 44 shots at Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth, they just couldn’t light their own lamp. “We put a lot of pucks at the net but we just didn’t get any trickle through” said Alzner.
With Friday’s loss, the Capitals head back to Philadelphia for another shot at ending the series in Game 6. As their focus shifts they will also determine how they need to reorganize their play to find that seemingly elusive fourth and series ending win. “We’re going to stay up all night and we’re going to look and see what areas we can improve,” said Trotz. “We can improve on our goal scoring a little bit we need to score a couple of goals. I think we need some production from our center ice a little here. Some guys have been a little quiet in this series other than on the power play and they need to do it 5 on 5.”
The Caps, who up to this point have played disciplined hockey, seemed to lose their composure a bit Friday night, even the veterans. Almost immediately after puck drop, T.J. Oshie and Brayden Schenn tossed off their gloves at center ice.
“I think they had a date or something because they started that off pretty quick,” said Trotz. However, reality is that Oshie and the team was sending a message to the Flyers. “We were really unhappy with a play he made on Kuzy [Evgeny Kuznetsov] last game and so it had to be done,” said Oshie. Unfortunately, it also cost Oshie time in the box as well something the Caps know they must avoid.
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With eight penalties for 19 minutes, it’s clear that game six success means avoiding the penalty box. “To me that’s the biggest thing. I’ll look at all six penalties but I thought we deserved every one of them and that’s crazy,” said Trotz. “Tonight we weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be.” Conversely, the penalty kill was outstanding.
The Capitals will trek to Philadelphia for Game 6 with some lessons learned. “What we are learning is we’ve got a resilient team on the other side. They are getting good goal tending, they’re committed; they’re blocking shots” said Trotz. To win, Daniel Winnick believes, “we need to get greasy around the net. We just need some more bodies around there when the pucks are going there and things should go our way.”