PHILADELPHIA – So … what just happened tonight for the Capitals?
Let’s recap, quickly, with some quotes and analysis about the Caps’ 5-4 shootout win over the Flyers:
Caps jump out to a 2-0 lead after one, fans at Wells Fargo Center let the home team (deservedly) have it. “You knew they were gonna get a little crap during intermission because we kinda outplayed them in the first period,” Jason Chimera said.
Caps make it 3-0 early in the second period and chase Flyers starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. “The goaltender change really sparked them,” Mike Knuble said. “They really came out and played strong in the second and third.”
Then that strong play – with the Flyers turning up the intensity and scoring off Dennis Wideman’s skate midway through the second and then on a Claude Giroux one-timer in the waning seconds of the period.
“We played good in the first period and we kinda sat back a little and 3-0 lead is tough because when you’ve been playing such good teams you tend to step back a bit more than you should, and you should keep going at them,” Chimera said. “We kinda sat back a bit and they’re too good to sit back.”
The Flyers hit a bunch of posts – at least two memorable ones – and tied it up on a bad turnover 9:58 into the third. But just as everyone was preparing to wonder how the Caps would respond Friday to losing a game in which they held a three-goal lead, they responded minutes later instead with Marcus Johansson’s goal that forced overtime. Everyone said that was evidence of “character.”
“The character has never been questioned, I don’t think, about our group,” Bruce Boudreau said. “When you believe you can win, you usually have that opportunity.”
Johansson gave the Caps that opportunity, and they took advantage of it by getting goals from Matt Hendricks (using his signature move), Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin in the shootout. So it was mostly smiles in the visiting locker room.
“It’s a fun game, I mean, this is the kind of game you want to play,” Backstrom said, “there is a lot of emotion out there, it’s fun.”
Can Caps fans say this was a “fun” game? As a hockey fan, it sure provided the entertainment Caps-Flyers usually sets up – making it well worth the national attention from Versus and sellout crowd. Players chose to take this as a lesson learned about sitting back and trying to defend a lead against a dominant team. But there were certainly issues.
“I think our biggest problem in the second period was turning the puck over,” Boudreau said. “In the second and third period they were able to put more pressure on us, but we were turning the puck over.”
So the Caps understand there are problems – and having Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Jason Arnott back at some point should help a little. But for now they’re taking positives out of this game.
“Again, when we’re missing Alex, Mike, and Jason it is easy to make excuses,” Knuble said. “We keep rolling as a group when this happens.”