Despite losing a tough 2-1 game to the Flyers in a shooout on Thursday night, the Washington Capitals can call this recent five game road trip a success. The Caps went 2-2-1 away from the Verizon Center against the Islanders, Jets, Blackhawks, Red Wings, and Flyers with their season on the line. They come home up a point in the race for eighth place in the Eastern Conference over the Buffalo Sabres. Friday night’s game against Winnipeg now becomes a huge one as the Capitals can pretty much knock the Jets out of it with a victory. The Jets are in 10th place, five points behind Washington.
The Caps played very well in regulation in Philadelphia but several missed opportunities came back to haunt them. Alexander Ovechkin, who scored just 26 seconds into the game, was stopped by Ilya Bryzgalov (30 saves) early in period two when the Gr8 appeared to have a ton of open net to shoot at, then Mathieu Perreault hit the right post from the slot and Keith Aucoin caught iron from in close in the middle frame, as well. Finally, Marcus Johansson received a penalty shot but Brygalov tripped him and the referees mistakenly didn’t give MJ90 another attempt.
Washington carried much of the play in regulation but the Flyers had some good looks too, but Braden Holtby (27 saves) was excellent in his second straight start and deserved a better fate than to lose in the gimmick. In overtime, the Capitals, with Nicklas Backstrom still out and Alexander Semin missing due to a lower body injury, struggled in four on four. Ovechkin did get a golden chance but Brayden Coburn made a good move late to force the Gr8 to shoot wide.
If you asked me before the road trip if I would take 5 points in 5 games, I would’ve snatched it and ran given the Caps road woes this season. But tonight was a chance to get greedy and get a sixth point and a bigger cushion in the standings. Washington played well enough to do just that but failed to finish. It is never fun to lose to the Flyers, especially when you out chance them.
In the big scheme of things though, a .500 trip against the teams they faced this late in the season was ultra important. The Capitals control their own destiny with five games at home and just three on the road. They can’t ask for much more than that at this point and they really need their fans to help them have a huge advantage at home, like the Winnipeg fans did last Friday night where every call pretty much went against the Caps.
Notes: Minnesota is in on Sunday while the Sabres are in town on Tuesday on the upcoming three game home stand…the Flyers only goal was scored by Claude Giroux right after Aucoin hit the post and Dennis Wideman blew a tire in his own zone allowing #28 to go in alone on Holtby…the Caps won the face-off battle, 30-24.