“Moral victories don’t mean anything right now,” Caps forward Troy Brouwer said and he is exactly right as the Capitals played like they wanted to play tonight.
The Caps hit, they took good shots, they fore-checked, they cycled the puck, they didn’t turn it over, they controlled play, but all for naught as they lost 1-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers in a game they really needed to be able to keep pace with the Florida Panthers for tops in the Southeast Division.
“You can’t be frustrated,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said. “You’ve just got to go ‘the goalie was hot’ and just keep getting pucks to the net.”
That might of been the case tonight as Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzagalov “stood tall” as Dale Hunter said by stopping all 34 shots the Caps threw at him, including a game high of seven by Alex Ovechkin, with a couple 2 on 1’s and a Mike Knuble breakaway. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Caps haven’t scored in their last 120 minutes of play, first time being shutout in back to back home games since March 13 and 15th of 2001, and aren’t taking advantage of a crucial five game homestand by losing two out of their first three.
“We played a pretty solid hockey game tonight,” Caps forward Matt Hendricks said. “I thought we put a lot of red around their goalie; I thought we had some good traffic. Unfortunately, we’re having trouble finding the back of the net right now and there’s no silver lining to losing hockey game during this time of year.”
The one Flyers goal came off an Alex Ovechkin turnover in the second period and Pavel Kubina passed it to Eric Wellwood who deflected it by Michal Neuvirth for his second goal of the season and the lone goal of the game.
“I tried to make a play in the offensive zone and I cost us a goal,” Ovechkin said. “It was my mistake.”
Afterwards the number one line with Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer went 6:39 before they saw the ice again, took one shift, and then sat out the final 4:29 of the period, but Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said it wasn’t a benching.
“It’s not a benching,” Hunter said on Ovechkin missing time in the second. “It was maybe he missed a shift. Guys I was matching lines, he played, he played a lot in the third and he had his chances and the goalie stood tall.”
Hunter said he didn’t want the first line against Jaromir Jagr’s line and would rather have the line of Hendricks, Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble against Jagr’s line.
Knuble, who played in his first game since February 22nd, played well on the night and had two shots and four hits. In fact the Caps out hit the Flyers 37-29 and Ovechkin led the team with six hits.
In almost a “must-win” game, four Capitals forwards played more than Alex Ovechkin did tonight. Brooks Laich skated 17:21, Matt Hendricks 17:26, Alexander Semin 19:23 and Marcus Johansson 19:05.
Unlike last game, the Caps didn’t give up in the third period tonight outshooting the Flyers 12-9 and had a couple good chances that just didn’t fall.
“In the third period we had our chances again,” Hunter said. “We should’ve scored, but again you got to give the other team goalie some credit.”
Ovechkin led the charge in the period by skating 8:37, having five shots on goal and two hits.
The Caps will need that kind of effort on Tuesday as they host the rival the Carolina Hurricanes, who they got shutout 5-0 by just short of two weeks ago, in a must win game to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Caps are five points behind the Carolina Panthers with the same number of games played and one point behind the Winnipeg Jets with one game in hand. With the Caps poor road record and very hard schedule away from home coming up, and three of their next four at home, they need to win these games.
“We got to clean up certain aspects of our game and we got to find ways to score,” Caps forward Troy Brouwer said. “That’s two games in a row we’ve been shut out and that’s unacceptable.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, Matt Hendricks and Karl Alzner had to say following the loss.
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio
Matt Hendricks Postgame Audio
Karl Alzner Postgame Audio