PHILADELPHIA | Get a hot start, win on the road. It has been such a winning recipe and a broken-record mantra for the Washington Capitals this season. Alex Ovechkin scoring 26 seconds in counts.
The Caps forced the Philadelphia Flyers completely off their game and could have started steam-rolling. Instead, they went the next 64:34 of game action without a goal, watching Ilya Bryzgalov turn aside the next 30 shots before ultimately beating them in the shootout.
So where did the offense go?
“We didn’t finish our chances. We had a penalty shot, we had Ovi with an empty net, [Keith Aucoin] hit a post, [Mike Green] had a shot right down the pipe,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “Bryzgalov played a good game after he settled in after that early goal, and I thought we were still getting chances; I thought we were still doing the right things.”
The chances were there and Bryzgalov looked shaky at times. Ovechkin had plenty of net to shoot at, but directed the puck right into the goaltender’s skate. Mathieu Perreault hit the post, and Green’s quality one-timer from the slot was snared out of the air.
“After the second period I thought we dominated them and we have more opportunities to score goals,” Ovechkin said. “It was two posts and I missed the empty net and he saved the puck.”
Dale Hunter lamented the same things
“Well, we had our chances. We hit a few posts and you know, we played well too,” the Caps’ coach said. “The goalies, it’s one of those things, kind of a goalies’ battle tonight.”
Braden Holtby held up his end of the bargain, at least until the shootout.
“He stood tall. To come in here, it’s a lot of pressure on him, but he’s fine,” Hunter said. “He gave us a chance to get the win. We got a tie, but he gave us the chance to get the win.”
Not quite a tie, but it felt like that after this loss. The Caps wanted two points badly but couldn’t take advantage, even on a night when the bounces wen their way.
“Yeah. But nothing you can do right now,” Ovechkin said. “We lost a point and tomorrow’s going to be big game for us – probably biggest game of the year.”