PHILADELPHIA (CBSDC) — “We had our chances,” Washington Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said.
And he was right, as the Caps fall 2-1 in a shootout to the Philadelphia Flyers after getting off to fast start. How Fast? Alex Ovechkin scored 26 seconds into the game when he scored off an Ilya Bryzgalov rebound. The Caps had all the momentum, but that was the end of their scoring night as they went the final 64:34 without finding the back of the net.
“Kind of a goalies battle tonight,” Hunter said.
As the Caps went with rookie Braden Holtby who was making his second straight start and just his third overall on the season. Holtby played very well, but when Jaromir Jagr found a streaking Claude Giroux beating Dennis Wideman and having a breakaway, he left his crease trying to swipe the puck and missed and left Giroux with a wide open net for the Flyers lone goal.
“I got caught halfway,” Holtby said. “When he had his head down kind of going around Wides [Wideman], the right play I think with my game is so slide, poke-check and surprise him. And I just kind of did a halfway effort and didn’t slide in, go aggressive as I needed to and that’s why it got around me. That’s a play I’d like to have back but one I’m not going to dwell on.
Holtby ended up with 27 saves on the night, but gave up two goals on four shooters in the shootout to give the Flyers the win.
“That was terrible,” Holtby said on the shootout. “Those two goals aren’t even good goals for the players to score. Those just shouldn’t go in. The shootout we should’ve won 1-0. all I can really do is look at it tomorrow and make sure I improve on it.”
Matt Hendricks had the lone shootout goal for the Caps completely schooling Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Caps though had their chances. They had 30 shots on goal and everyone contributed to the missed opportunities. Captain Alex Ovechkin, who had a team high six shots on goal, missed a wide open net off a one timer when a diving Bryzgalov barely got a piece of the puck with his skate, also Mathieu Perreault hit one off the post and Keith Aucoin missed the net. Marcus Johansson missed a penalty shot and even the Caps power play, which went 0 for 2 on the night, looked good, but just couldn’t get one past Bryzgalov.
“We didn’t finish our chances,” Caps forward Troy Brouwer said. “We had a penalty shot, we had Ovi with an empty net, Keither hit a post, Greener had a shot right down the pipe. 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. I think we limited their chances quite a bit, but he played well throughout the rest of the game.”
Bryzgalov goes to 9-1-1 in his last eleven games as the Flyers are 7-2-1 in their last ten.
“He’s in the zone right now,” Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, who had the game winning shootout goal, said on Bryzgalov. “We can rely on him. We’re completely confident in him. Anytime there’s a lapse, he makes a huge save so it’s really good for us.”
The Caps, who end up 2-2-1 on their five game road trip, don’t have time to think about what could’ve been as they start a three game homestand, which includes huge games against the Winnipeg Jets and Buffalo Sabres, starting with the Jets tomorrow night.
The Jets have been in DC the last two days resting for the Caps and have their season on the line tomorrow night. The Caps are one point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East and four points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets with a chance to knock them out of the playoff picture tomorrow.
“We feel is going to be maybe a make or break game in our season,” Brouwer said. “We’re excited about tomorrow night’s game already.”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, Braden Holtby, Jeff Halpern & Karl Alzner had to say following the shootout loss tonight.
1st 0:26 Ovechkin (33, past his total from last season), unassisted
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio
Braden Holtby Postgame Audio
Jeff Halpern Postgame Audio
Karl Alzner Postgame Audio