Coming into last nights game, the Flyers sat five points back of the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference trailing bot the Montreal Canadiens and the Columbus Blue Jackets who have 81 points each. In what was almost a must-win situation for the Flyers, the Orange and Black came up short and fell to the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals by a final score of 5-2.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Flyers had been outscored 71-55 in the first period. Unfortunately for the Flyers, that did not improve as Washington tallied two first period goals to go up 2-0.
The first period belonged to the Capitals. Less than a minute into the first, Carter Hart, who made his first start since February 21 due to injury, had to make a nice save off a redirection in front. Hart, who allowed four goals on thirty-one shots tonight, fared just okay in his return versus the red hot Caps
Just a little over two minutes into the 1st, Capitals RW Brett Connolly put the Capitals ahead 1-0 thanks to a beautiful pass from Michal Kempny out near the blue line. The Flyers, who last week were down 2-0 at the end of the first, once again gave up the first goal.
A little over six minutes later, the Capitals struck again thanks to Lars Eller extending there lead to 2-0. Eller, who came into tonight’s game with ten goals on the season followed up on his initial shot on goal and put the puck past Hart. Just a few seconds before the goal, Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim failed to clear the puck out of the Washington zone, ultimately leading to the goal.
In what was an overall flat first period, the Flyers did draw a penalty with exactly one minute remaining in the first as Brooks Orpik was called for interference on Claude Giroux.
The Flyers, who had come into tonight’s game ranked 22nd overall on the powerplay, were unfortunately unable to capitalize on the man advantage before the horn sounded signaling an end to the first period.
Coming into the 2nd down 2-0, the Flyers knew they’d have to find their game quick. The Capitals had the hot hand and it didn’t seem as if they’d be taken their foot of the gas anytime soon.
What started out as a shorthanded 2 on 1 for the Capitals turned into an eventual goal for James van Reimsdyk and the Flyers just 1:03 into the 2nd.
With the powerplay winding down, Tom Wilson led the rush up the ice looking to extend the Caps lead to 3-0. Instead of taking the shot, Wilson attempted to make the cross-ice pass to try and set up what would’ve most likely been a one-timer. Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was able to get his stick in there to disrupt the play and lead the Flyers the other way. Gostisbehere carried the puck all the way up ice into the Capitals zone before eventually passing the puck to van Riemsdyk who walked in and fired a wrister past Holtby to cut the lead to 2-1.
Coming into tonight’s game, van Riemsdyk had 18 career points versus the Capitals (7 goals, 11 assists) in 28 games played. With his goal in the second period of tonight’s game, he now has improved that total to 19 points in 29 games.
Following the van Riemsdyk goal, the Flyers seemed to finally shape into form. Unfortunately for the Flyers, Radko Gudas put an end to that momentum when he was assessed a two-minute penalty for holding.
The Flyers overall did a good job on the penalty kill, limiting the Capitals chances to the outside. Carter hart also looked good as he made two big stops on Capitals great Alexander Ovechkin who is absolutely lethal on the powerplay.
You would think after killing off a big penalty, maybe the Flyers would build on that and tie things up. That’s the exact opposite of what they did. Shortly after killing off the Gudas minor, Phil Myers turned the puck over at the blue line resulting in yet another odd-man rush for the Caps. Brett Connolly, who already had a goal and an assist on the night, came flying up ice with the puck and waited until/ the absolute last second puck to fire the puck over the shoulder of hart and into the back of the net. With that goal, the Capitals were up 3-1. The Capitals weren’t done there though.
Just a little over a minute later Capitals struck again as Tom Wilson shot the puck into what was a wide open net to put the Caps up 4-1. Ultimately, this spelled trouble for the Flyers. They had yet again dug themselves a deep hole.
Once again though, the Flyers showed that they weren’t ready to give up just yet as they were able to make it a 4-2 game a little over midway through the 2nd thanks Scott Laughton. Robert Hagg’s slap pass had just a little to much heat on it as ricocheted off of Laughton’ stick to Ryan Hartman and eventually back to Laughton who put it past Holtby to get the Flyers back within two.
Not much else transpired in the second aside from a Michael Raffl tripping minor with exactly a minute remaining in the period. The Flyers were able to kill off the penalty, which carried over into the first minute of the third period, to keep the game within reach.
Chances came and chances went for the Flyers in the 3rd. They had three power plays in the period and failed to capitalize on any of them finishing the night 0/4 on the man advantage.
With less than three minutes remaining in the third period, Flyers Head Coach Scott Gordon pulled Carter Hart in favor of the extra attacker. It took less than thirty seconds for th Caps to take advantage of the empty net as Evgeny Kuznetsov made it 5-2 with 2:26 remaining.
The Caps would go onto win by this score improving there record to 42-22-7 and secured there 21st road win of the season. With the win, the Capitals now sit alone in 1st Place in the Metropolitan Division.
As for the Flyers, their chances at making the playoffs became that much slimmer. This was almost a much win situation for the Flyers and they weren’t able to pull it off. However, the Canadiens weren’t able to pull out a win either as they were defeated by the New York Islanders by a final score of 2-1. With the Habs loss, the Flyers remain five points back of a playoff spot.
The Flyers are right back in action tonight as they head to Toronto to take on Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Brian Elliott is expected to get the start between the pipes after being a healthy scratch last night. Puck Drop is set for 7PM.
As always, Lets Go Flyers!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports