In three previous games against the Flyers this season, all three went to overtime, well this will make it four as the Caps led 3-0 in the second, only to be down 4-3 late in the third before Marcus Johansson tied it up and gave the Caps momentum to win in a shootout and clinch their fourth consecutive playoff birth.
In the first period the Caps took advantage of a shaky Sergei Bobrovsky in goal for the Flyers. Nicklas Backstrom scored first, his 18th of the season, then Mike Knuble almost 10 minutes later put in his 20th to make it 2-0 Caps going to the 2nd. Both goals were pretty weak, but the Caps will take all the breaks they can being shorthanded and on the road. For Knuble that’s his 8th consecutive season with 20 goals or more and he said afterwards he was scared he wasn’t going to get that for a time this season.
The second period started well for the Caps, Dennis Wideman from the point on the power play put a long wrister that hit Bobrovsky and in to make it 3-0 Caps. That was Wideman’s 10th of the season and first as a Capital. It was also enough for Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette to pull Bobrovsky and put in veteran Brian Boucher. From there on the Flyers took control of the game scoring four unanswered including two in row to end the second period. First Matt Carle passed it right in front of Caps goaltender Michal Neuvirth and deflected it off of Wideman’s skate and in. Kris Versteeg got credit for the goal and the second goal, with only 34 seconds remaining in the period and the Flyers dominating both ends of the ice, Andreas Nodl found Claude Giroux for a one timer and that made it 3-2 Caps going to the third.
Almost halfway through the third Giroux deflected a Jeff Schultz clearing attempt right to a wide open Nodl who beat Neuvirth to tie it up at three. Then less than five minutes later Kimmo Timonen shot it just wide of the net and Daniel Briere deflected it behind Neuvirth and in to give the Flyers their first lead of the game. But Marcus Johansson came back just a few minutes later beating Boucher with a wrister above the circle to tie it up and send it to overtime and eventually a shootout. For Johansson that was his 12th of the season and is one of the bigger goals in his young career.
In the shootout all three of the Caps, Matt Hendricks, Backstrom & Alex Semin scored to give the Caps the victory and clinch their fourth straight playoff birth. The Caps are now 43-21-10, 96 points on the season and one point behind the Flyers for tops in the East, but the Flyers have two games in hand. The Caps lead the Lightning by seven points in the Southeast Division, but the Lightning have one game in hand. Michal Neuvirth get’s his 24th win of the season and the goals weren’t really his fault.
The Caps are 2-0-2 against the Flyers this season, 36-0-3 when scoring three goals or more, 4-5 in shootouts, 26-0-2 when leading after 2 periods, 19-7-6 when outshot, 24-3-4 when scoring a PP goal and 14-0-2 when scoring a PP goal and not allowing one. The Caps are 3-1 on this six game road trip, they’ll head back to DC tonight and have two days of practice before back to back games in Ottawa and Montreal on Friday and Saturday. Marcus Johansson got the hard hat in the victory. Practice will be at 11am tomorrow from Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Check out what Bruce Boudreau, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Knuble & Marcus Johansson had to say following the win.
1st 7:52 Backstrom (18), Laich (25)
1st 17:46 Knuble (20), Chimera (15), Johansson (14)
2nd 1:22 PP Wideman (10), Backstrom (39), Knuble (15)
3rd 16:41 Johansson (12), Knuble (16), Hannan (10)
Hendricks, Backstrom, Semin
Bruce Boudreau Postgame Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio
Mike Knuble Postgame Audio
Marcus Johansson Postgame Audio
Sky Kerstein is 106.7 The FAN’s Capitals Beat Reporter and co-host of “Morning Skate” every Sunday from 9am-10am on 106.7 The FAN. Also you can find video recaps of every Caps game and post-game interviews on www.1067thefandc.com. You can get in touch with Sky on Facebook or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/SkyKerstein.