In the first game back after the All-Star game teams are expected to suffer from a bit of rust. The players selected to go to the game have to switch out of showcase mode and get back to playing meaningful games. The other players have to remember that the playoffs are fast approaching and they need to step back in to play at full speed.
The Flyers need to have a better effort than they put on the ice over their last few games. In the past two games, the Flyers have played for only two periods and twenty-seven seconds of overtime. The other four periods they have been outplayed by a wide margin. Would the All-Star break get their heads back into the game or will we see more of the same against the Washington Capitals?
In the first period, the Flyers came out with more speed and determination than the Capitals. The passes were crisp and the speed was evident. The game was just over a minute old when the Flyers struck first. The Capitals were caught in deep and it led to a two on one break. Wayne Simmonds put a pass right on the tape of Nolan Patrick and with the flick of the wrist, Patrick beat Brayden Holtby on the backhand for the one to nothing Flyers lead.
Just a few minutes later Travis Konecny was the recipient of another two on one break and if not for a nice glove save by Holtby the game would have been a two nothing lead for the Flyers. Travis Konecny would not be denied a goal in the game. With just under eight minutes gone Sean Couturier drove to the net which caused the Capitals Christian Djoos to run into Holtby giving Konecny a tap-in for the two nothing lead.
The Flyers looked to build off the dominating first period but they instead had a period of mistakes and sloppy play. With just over two minutes gone in the period, a harmless looking shot seemed to catch Michal Neuvirth off guard and the puck sat under his pad. A late whistle and bad positioning by Neuvirth allowed Chandler Stephenson to jab the puck out from under the pad and into the back of the net to cut the lead to one goal.
Less than a minute later Brandon Manning got caught watching the play up ice allowing a breakaway. Stephenson made a move to the backhand and put the puck between the legs of Neuvirth to tie the game up at two.
The mistakes continued for the Flyers when Alex Ovechkin screamed for a penalty and the referee listened to the Capitals star. Brandon Manning once again got caught out of position on the penalty kill. Manning allowed Andre Borakovsky to get in front of him and deflect a puck past Neuvirth to give the Capitals their first lead of the game.
The Flyers came out with the speed they showed in the first and looked to take control of the game once again. The Flyers generated a few scoring chances until with the Flyers pressing Capitals forward Tom Wilson held Nolan Patrick’s stick and flopped to the ice which the officials bought and called Patrick for the hooking penalty. While on the power play T.J. Oshie got away with an interference penalty on Robert Hagg which caused Hagg to lose his stick into the far corner leaving the Flyers essentially two men down. The non-call would play a big role as the Capitals made a pass into the slot for T. J. Oshie to put the puck past the shoulder of Neuvirth to extend the lead by two goals.
Being down by two goals the Flyers Defense needed to step up and take chances to generate some scoring opportunities. Just four minutes after the Capitals made the score four to two Andrew MacDonald got caught pinching into the Capitals zone causing a three on two break going the other way. With MacDonald catching up to the play he got caught watching the play in front of him and not the late man trailing the play. The Capitals were able to enter the zone and send a shot on net which hit Devante Smith-Pelly and deflected past Neuvirth for the three-goal lead.
Neuvirth left the game after the fifth goal with just a .750 save percentage for the game. He would be replaced by Alex Lyon who saved all five shots he faced in relief. The Flyers managed a late goal by Jakub Voracek with just under half the third period left. The Flyers never seemed to recover from the sloppy second period and now have been outplayed in six of the last nine periods they have played.
The Flyers will play the New Jersey Devils in their next game. They have less than twenty-four hours to dwell on the loss to the Capitals before they take to the ice. The Flyers are 113 W 97 L 18 T 12 OTL against the Devils all-time and have won three out of the last four games
between the two teams. The Flyers have also won the two games they have played this season. The Flyers need a whole game effort when they meet the Devils in hopes to maintain their hold of the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.