Last night’s game in Philadelphia started out in what seems to be typical Caps fashion this season: get behind by a couple goals, then remember there’s a game going on, play the comeback card, and hope for the best.
It’s a very risky strategy (if you want to spin it that way) and the problem is, doesn’t always work. Especially against teams like the Flyers, who currently sit atop the Eastern Conference. After last night’s 3-2 overtime win, the Flyers are now 8 points ahead of the once-leading Capitals.
Jeff Carter scored 91 seconds in on a wrap-around goal to put the Flyers up 1-0. Claude Giroux wristed one in the second, and the Flyers were looking pretty dominant. And suddenly, the Caps were in the final frame in a very familiar position: behind.
There’s little need to recap the Caps’ play in the first two periods, because honestly, we’ve seen it all before. Lackluster play, low aggression, disjointed playmaking, shots from the perimeter, hesitancy.
Mike Knuble started about 40 seconds of Caps life in the third, doing what he does best – crowding the crease and scraping in the dirty goal. He was there to scoop up an off-the-post shot by Marcus Johansson and slammed it through the low slot. It was ugly, but it lit the lamp.
And once again, things started to change. The Caps got lively and wonder of wonders, Alex Ovechkin took advantage of an out-of-position Sergei Bobrovsky, wristing in a Backstrom-Chimera combination that gave the Caps captain his (shockingly) 16th goal of the season. Just like that, it was a tie game.
The Flyers clamped down, continued playing their game and forced overtime. Andrej Meszaros, completely uncovered as the Caps converged on Matt Carle, took his teammate’s pass and flipped a shot past Semyon Varlamov to give the Flyers the win.
Yes, Washington managed to scrape out a point, so there’s something to take out of it. Happy Ovechkin finally scored? Well, keep in mind it came on a busted play; Ovechkin had no shots on goal in 14 shifts on the ice before that goal. It’s encouraging he got on the score sheet, but it hardly settles down any doubts fans may be having with the team this season.
Ovechkin knows it. He was emotional in talking with reporters last night after the loss. “After every game we say if we score one goal ugly we will think, ‘OK, this is it. It’s time to get going,’” he said. “It has to be every game, working hard. All the guys in this room understand if we work hard and if we use our skill nobody can stop us. In the second period we had probably four or six shots on net. That’s not our game. We have to go to the net, find the rebound, crash the net, make some hits and be angrier.”
If they don’t find their game soon, it’ll be the fans that turn up the angry.