The Washington Times - February 24, 2009, 10:29PM

Chance after chance after chance for the Washington Capitals. At the end, it was a 4-2 loss after the Philadelphia Flyers caught fire in the third period. I’ll keep this brief (check out Corey Masisak’s story in Wednesday’s paper and here on the site), but the Caps will be looking back at missed opportunities after this one.


“We had a couple of good chances early on, a couple of breakaways,” Caps defenseman Tom Poti said. “We needed to put those home and finish them off, but we didn’t do it and we didn’t get the result we wanted.”

Washington had five chances to score short-handed and came up empty-handed. A couple times it was Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki (33 saves) robbing the Caps. Other times the Caps just didn’t get the puck on net.

“We were a little bit sloppy there on the power play, and they changed their penalty kill a little bit, and we didn’t do a very good job executing,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “When you get those kind of saves, it lets you regroup. …  If they score on even one of those, it’s probably a different game.”

What it was - from the point Claude Giroux scored in the second - was a close game, not a blowout. Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist, but he wasn’t able to take the game over in the way he has at certain moments this year.

And the Caps really struggled in five-on-five play, scoring once on 17 shots at full strength.

“I thought they had more short-handed chances than five-on-five chances, to be honest with you,” Niittymaki said. “They’re pretty aggressive on penalty killing. [The Caps] played well on the PK, especially creating chances on the other end.”

But those chances were for naught, and the Flyers took advantage.

Stevens started the third period by reuniting the “Center City Line” of Scott Hartnell, Jeff Carter and Joffrey Lupul after starting the game with Scottie Upshall replacing Lupul.

All that did was spark the Flyers with two goals in just over a minute. The first was on a gorgeous pass from Lupul to a streaking Hartnell midway between the hashmarks and the blue line. Hartnell ripped it past goalie Jose Theodore to tie the game 2-2.

Soon after, a shot by Lupul bounced off Theodore’s left pad right to Carter, who banged it home. Fourth-line tough guy Arron Asham finished it off with a pretty goal to make it 4-2.

“We were getting snakebit a little bit,” Hartnell said. “Theodore had a heck of a game the first two periods. It seemed like everything we threw at him he was stopping and hanging onto those rebounds. We were just able to keep on going, not giving up and we were able to get rewarded there at the end.”

At the end for the Caps, it was a loss - one that they attributed to taking too many penalties.

“[The penalties] disrupt everyone’s ice time and keeps the skill guys off the ice,” Caps forward Boyd Gordon said. “We’ve got to figure out how to minimize the penalties, or it is going to burn us.”

- Stephen Whyno