- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2009

For nearly 50 minutes Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals were in the lead and generating scoring chances aplenty.

The problem was, those chances weren’t turning into goals - and one burst of momentum from the Philadelphia Flyers in the middle of the third period was enough to leave the Caps wondering what had just happened.

Instead of a fifth win in six games, the Caps squandered a two-goal lead and were dealt a 4-2 loss in front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Center.

“I think that was a theme of the whole night… not cashing in on chances,” Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. “If you can’t score when you have the opportunities, eventually those opportunities dry up and the other team gets their opportunities.”

Philadelphia struck for three goals in a span of 3:19. Joffrey Lupul normally skates with Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell, but he began the game on the third line. He was moved back to the second unit, and those three combined for the first two goals of the flurry.

Hartnell took a cross-ice pass from Lupul on a three-on-two and blasted a shot from the top of the left circle past Caps goalie Jose Theodore at 9:11 of the final period to level the score at 2-2. Carter banged home the rebound of a Lupul shot 85 seconds later to give the Flyers their first lead of the night.

Arron Asham, a guy known more for toughness than skill, completed the trifecta by skating around Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz and across the crease before slipping a shot through Theodore at 12:30.

“We had a bad power play [just before the Flyers’ run] and they got a little momentum from that,” defenseman Tom Poti said. “It didn’t seem like there was much flow. It was all specialty teams.”

The power play had been rolling of late, and the Caps needed only four seconds with the extra man to score the lone goal of the first period. Sergei Fedorov won the faceoff back to Alex Ovechkin, who connected with Nicklas Backstrom on a perfect slap pass, and he flipped a backhander into the net at 1:48 of the opening period.

Backstrom now has goals in three consecutive games and points in seven straight. His two-point day Sunday against Pittsburgh moved him into the league’s top 10 in scoring, and his 65 points are four shy of his total from his rookie campaign.

In a penalty-filled contest, the Caps ended up with seven more extra-man chances. They also had several prime short-handed opportunities in the first 20 minutes, but only a one-goal lead that would come back to haunt them.

“We had some really good chances on the power play, but we just didn’t put the puck in the net,” Boudreau said. “That will come back to bite you all the time.”

Ovechkin gave the Caps a 2-0 lead early in the second period. Seconds after Mike Green harmlessly flipped the puck toward the net and it hit the right goal post after being redirected by a skate, Carter tried to pass it out of trouble.

But Ovechkin was there to intercept the puck and snap a shot past goalie Antero Niittymaki before being knocked to the ice by his own teammate at 4:18. It was Ovechkin’s league-leading 44th goal of the season and first of the season against the Flyers.

The Flyers had a two-man advantage for 15 seconds in the middle period after Alexander Semin flipped the puck into the seats from his own zone, and that was enough time to pare the lead in half. Claude Giroux one-timed a slap pass from Mike Richards at 9:22, nine seconds after Semin had been sent to the box.

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