In my eyes, this might be one of the best rivalries in the NHL. Before last night, the last time these two teams encountered one another was April 12th, 2022, when the Washington Capitals thumped the Philadelphia Flyers, 9-2. Last night, on Thanksgiving Eve, we saw the latest tilt go to overtime.
Both teams are in the bottom half of the ever-competitive Metropolitan Division with significant injuries. It was anyone’s game, and a period of three-on-three proved it.
Have to win the first period
The Flyers were the first to get on the board. Morgan Frost took a shot on Darcy Kuemper, seemingly stopped by the netminder. The puck bounced off his glove and over his shoulder as it just broke past the goal line. Frost notched his third of the season, assisted by Joel Farabee and Travis Sanheim.
Lately, Justin Braun finds himself in the ‘bad boy box’ for tripping penalties a little too often. On the powerplay, Washington scored the equalizer. The first scoring play by Marcus Johansson was overturned due to a distinct kicking motion. No goal, and for a moment, John Tortorella smiled.
In a couple of moments, the Capitals continued to test Sandstrom. Johansson did get his goal back when Alexander Ovechkin beat Sandstrom through the five-hole. Johansson got the credit, nipping the puck before it crossed the goal line. This extra-man marker stands to tie the game, 1-1.
Nick Dowd headed to the box for hooking. During the first Flyers powerplay, Lukas Sedlak took a scary hit into the brunt of where the glass begins at the bench. Philadelphia received another powerplay when Sonny Milano served for high-sticking. Neither opportunity could be converted.
Brown revives the Flyers
Again, Braun served another penalty. Sandstrom made a few big saves on the penalty kill, improving the penalty kill rate on the evening. Nicolas Deslauriers was active on the kill, coming up with a timely clearance.
The Flyers jumped back to the lead, securing the first goal of the second frame. Deslauriers found Ivan Provorov, who created enough space to put the puck in traffic. The puck deflects off Patrick Brown, clearing the goal line for a 2-1 lead.
Before the end of the period, the Flyers had to kill another penalty. Sedlak served for interference, but Washington wouldn’t convert. The Flyers held a 2-1 lead, finishing 2/3 on the penalty kill.
Flyers surrender a late lead
There were two more powerplay chances for the Flyers in the final frame. The first came by way of a hooking penalty on Matt Irwin; the second was a slashing call to Lars Eller. Unfortunately, including a brief five-on-three advantage, Philadelphia couldn’t do anything with the opportunities.
Then, with less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Washington tied the game. Milano dashed the hopes of a regulation victory for Philadelphia as this one headed to overtime, 2-2.
Tensions mounted after Milano scored the equalizer late in the third period. Tony DeAngelo and Milano got into it. Clearly, there were some feelings at the moment that the scoring play might’ve been offside. No challenge by Tortorella.
The overtime period ended about as fast as it started. Imagine ordering a cake for dessert, but instead of it being served, the waiter drops it as they leave the kitchen.
Barely one minute into the extra period, Ovechkin made his mark. Dylan Strome set Ovechkin up in his wheelhouse, ripping home the game-winner. It was a quick decision, giving the Capitals their first lead in five games. Philadelphia dropped the overtime decision, 3-2.
Sandstrom saved 29/32 shots taken by the Capitals. Following the loss, Tortorella expressed his frustration about the late equalizer by Milano:
“The frustrating part, for me, is the second goal. It’s a coverage that we have gone over time and time again, and we just do not do it correctly. That cost us the second goal.”John Tortorella; 11/23/2022
Provorov also shared his frustration in dropping another late lead:
“At this point we’re finding ways to lose. We gotta’ stop that. It’s a game of poessession when it comes to overtime and three-on-three. When you don’t get the puck right away, it becomes tough to get it. You have to find a way to grind it out and stay with your people. We have to do a better job of that as a team overall.”Ivan Provorov; 11/23/2022
In a tough, overtime, divisional loss, it’s usually tough to pick the ‘Diamond of the Tilt.’ Not this time. It was a clear choice: Felix Sandstrom.
Stopping 29/32 shots against Washington is a solid game. He had rest due to Tortorella electing to start Carter Hart as often. He was 2:58 away from a regulation victory. Not a bad performance in the slightest by the backup netminder.
Tomorrow, the Philadelphia Flyers return to the Wells Fargo Center to host another Metropolitan Division rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins. The puck drops at 5:30pm.
(AP Photo/Nick Wass)