The Philadelphia Flyers took the Washington Capitals’ young defensive corps to school Saturday night, transforming into an offensive juggernaut on their way to an 8-2 win in Philadelphia. The Capitals split their first set of back-to-back contests of the season, having won by a 5-2 count last night against the Devils at Prudential Center in Newark. The Capitals were without Matt Niskanen, who was put on long-term injured reserve this morning after sustaining an upper-body injury. Capitals defenseman Madison Bowey had a rough start in his NHL debut.
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) October 14, 2017
Scoring: Sean Couturier pounced on a rebound given up from Phillipp Grubauer. Jakub Voracek hit Couturier up in the slot following a beautiful stretch pass from captain Claude Giroux to make it 1-0 Flyers.
The Caps’ Jakub Vrana tapped in a puck to tie the game after Evgeny Kuznetsov froze Flyers’ goalie Brian Elliott. Vrana second goal in as many nights came 2:07 after Couturier struck for the Flyers.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 14, 2017
Flyers forward Scott Laughton got a stick on a John Carlson pass during a Capitals power play and had a break-away. Grubauer dived out in front to try to knock the puck out of the zone but he barely touched it and Laughton regained control and skated to the empty net for a short-handed lay up. That made it 2-1 Flyers with 1:02 seconds left.
The Good: Evgeny Kuznetsov also got his league-leading 11th point and assist on Vrana’s goal. The rookie defensemen played well and weren’t on the ice for any of the Flyers’ goals. The Caps won the first eight faceoffs in the game and won 67% of the first period puck drops. After a ton of penalties early in the season, the Caps had just one minor penalty in the first, a slashing call on John Carlson. The Caps killed off the penalty without giving up a shot.
The Bad: The Capitals gave up 13 shots in the first frame (while taking 9) and had seven giveaways.
The Ugly: John Carlson’s missed pass led to the Laughton short-handed goal to make it 2-1 Philly.
Scoring: Wayne Simmonds made it 3-1 on the power play after a beautiful move by Voracek, who fed Simmonds for a slamdunk right in front of Grubauer. Voracek danced around Bowey, who lost his stick trying to keep up with the Czech forward, before serving up the pass.
Claude Giroux made it 4-1 with 9:28 left, tipping in a Sean Couturier shot from the left dot. Giroux was able to get his stick down in front of Bowey.
Nicklas Backstrom responded quickly on a breakaway to cut the Flyers’ lead to 4-2. Brooks Orpik made a sweet pass from his own zone to spring Backstrom just 13 seconds after Giroux’s goal.
Valteri Filpulla tapped in a Jordan Weal feed to beat Grubauer to make it 5-2.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 15, 2017
The Good: Backstrom’s quick response goal got the Caps back in the game. Backstrom has a point in every game this season.
The Bad: A second slashing call against Carlson resulted in the Simmonds goal. While the call itself was debatable, the league has made it abundantly clear that they are going to call slashing tightly. Ovechkin learned that in the preseason (remembers the “What, you can’t even touch the guy?” conversation with the refs?), and the rest of the team has to stop taking ticky-tack penalties. The Capitals didn’t have a shot on goal in the first seven minutes of the period. The Capitals had 10 giveaways through two periods.
The Ugly: The Flyers took advantage of the Caps youthful defense, scoring 3 goals on 11 shots. Voracek undressed Bowey on the Simmonds power play goal and Weal danced around Ness to set up the Filpulla goal.
Scoring: Laughton sniped one past Grubauer from the left dot 8:28 into the third period for his second of the game. That made it a 6-2 Flyers lead.
Sean Couturier made it a 7 spot with 10:15 left deking behind Grubauer. Capitals’ defenseman Dmitry Orlov tried to get it out of the crease but it was already in the net by the time they tried to cover it up.
Claude Giroux ripped a shot past Grubauer at the 15:23 mark. Brandon Manning and Shane Gostisbehere picked up assists.
The Good: The Caps won last night, so they come out of their first back-to-back with a split.
The Bad: While defensive woes dominated the storyline for the Caps. The offense was also an issue: the Caps had only 23 shots on goal, and only 7 in the third period.
The Ugly: The wear-and-tear of having played last night became more apparent as the game continued, with the well-rested Flyers running circles around the Caps in the third. It was the first time the Caps gave up 8 goals in a regulation game since 2006.
Shots: Capitals – 23 Flyers – 37
Power Plays: Capitals – 0/2 Flyers – 1/2
Hits: Capitals – 20 Flyers – 23
Blocked Shots: Capitals – 10 Flyers – 16
Up Next: The Capitals will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in their first meeting since Washington defeated Toronto in 6 games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Two of the NHL’s scoring powerhouses face off for what should be a very entertaining game on Tuesday night in Washington.
By Harrison Brown