The Washington Capitals haven’t been the force of reckoning this season that many had expected them to be after winning the 2009-2010 President’s Trophy, and yet the Philadelphia Flyers can’t seem to wrap things up without overtime. The score shouldn’t even have gotten as close as it did, but they still pulled away with another two points in a 3-2 overtime win, thanks to the hard work of defensemen Braydon Coburn and Andrej Meszaros.
Jeff Carter opened the scoring just 1:32 into the first with a fairly basic wraparound shot. Goaltender Michael Neuvirth was too far outside of his crease to close off the corner of the net in time. Claude Giroux widened the lead at 13:28 of the second period. Giroux said, “I’m not too sure what happened. [It was] a small cycle. I yelled at Cartsy and he was able to pass it to me. I got a quick shot and was able to get the rebound.”
Throughout the bulk of the game, the Flyers were simply skating harder and outworking the opposition. There were no breakaways or mad scrambles in front of Sergei Bobrovsky. A lot of that has to do with the play of defenseman Braydon Coburn, who was tasked with the responsibility of shutting down Alex Ovechkin, and made it look so easy.
“I thought he was great,” coach Peter Laviolette said of Coburn. “Coby’s such a good skating defenseman. He moves so well and I really think you need that when playing a guy like Alex, because he moves so quick. He’s so powerful that you have to have someone equally as powerful with their strides. Coby did a great job of gappin’ it up.”
It’s also worth noting that only one penalty was called all game- a hooking penalty on Capitals forward David Steckel. That’s not to say that the referees couldn’t have called a few questionable plays, but they let both teams continue on. The Flyers won’t likely have that good fortune very often, but the lack of penalties is something to build on.
Then the third period came. The Flyers had started playing cute with their passes and before you know it, former Flyer Mike Knuble batted a loose puck in front of the net to cut the lead in half. Chaos ensued in the defensive zone less than a minute later and Ovechkin potted his 16th goal of the season.
Having blown a 2-0 lead, the Flyers came right back at it and dominated the rest of the period. At the 1:07 mark of overtime, Andrej Meszaros launched a slapshot on net that beat goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
Laviolette’s view of the third period breakdown was a pretty fair assessment. “I thought we got right back to it. We had a couple of good shifts right away and continued to press through the third period trying to get the lead back. It’s unfortunate… I don’t think that we came out and played poorly in the first 8 minutes, but we didn’t play as well as we did in the first 52. It was a fast game… Give a good team like that an inch, they take 2 miles.”
Bobrovsky looked good tonight, although the defense did a great job as well. Neuvirth, who had almost identical stats to Bob heading into the game, was inexplicably replaced with Varlamov at the beginning of the second period.
The last bit of interesting news that came up during the post game discussion was the fact that Laviolette had the team spend the afternoon at a hotel downtown rather than head home after the morning skate.
“There’s something to the fact that when you come off of road trips, you get home, you get settled in, and you play a flat game. Maybe just to keep that road mentality, maybe to keep guys away from home and the ‘honey do’ list that may be growing… just stay focused on hockey and the job at hand.”
I have yet to find one thing that I don’t appreciate about this man.
The Flyers continue their latest homestand on Thursday, when Meszaros’ former team, the Ottawa Senators, arrive in Philadelphia.