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Capitals Takeaways

Takeaways: Capitals Can’t Overcome Strange Start, Fall Flat In Philly



Capitals and Flyers

A Saturday matinee in Philadelphia got off on the wrong foot for the Washington Capitals, who found themselves “working through things in the room” prior to puck drop against the Flyers, while also seeing the goalie situation — almost — in flux after a peculiar pregame skate and ultimately, another slow start.

Ultimately, despite a T.J. Oshie goal and a strong second period, Washington couldn’t recover and fell 2-1 to Philly.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Capitals Get Off To Bad Start After Odd Situation With Samsonov

Washington by no means got off to the start it wanted, and it all started with a rather strange occurrence in warmups. Ilya Samsonov, set to make his sixth straight start, led the Capitals out on the ice for warmups but left the ice early, leaving Pheonix Copley as the lone goaltender.

It’s unclear what exactly happened, but after some speculation and questions, Samsonov ultimately returned to start the game. Then, off the opening draw and just 11 seconds in, Claude Giroux scored to make it 1-0 on Philly’s first shot.

It set up the Flyers for a dominant opening frame, one where they had the upper hand in scoring chances and shots, while also controlling the ice and making it 2-0 by the end of the first 20 minutes. Samsonov, meanwhile, looked a bit lost, making some fumbles, giving up rebounds and struggling to track the puck in the opening frame. Ultimately, though, it’d push Washington to come out with a better start to the second — and the team did just that.

Oshie, Capitals Tilt The Ice In Second

The Capitals were a different team in the middle frame. They came out of the gate with more jump in their step and much more urgency, generating several high-danger chances, taking care of the puck and using their speed and vision to create opportunities on the forecheck. Then, the power play finally found a spark, and credit is due to No. 77.

Oshie scored from the bumper position on a great tic-tac-toe play to cut Washington’s deficit in half. It was his sixth goal of the season and his second PPG of the year (his last came on opening night). It was just what the team needed to see from the 34-year-old, who played in his second game back from an upper-body injury that held him out for over a month.

Oshie has played in just 20 games this season due to multiple ailments and trips to the IR, but he has made his presence known night in and night out. He has 14 points this year. And in a normal 82-game campaign, he would be on pace for 57 points.

Ultimately, the Capitals outshot the Flyers 11-4 in the second and kept the momentum and speed going in their favor. They also did a tremendous job in shutting down Philly at even strength and also on the penalty kill, allowing no shots on a lengthy 5-on-3 followed by a longer 5-on-4 with top PKers Nic Dowd and Martin Fehervary in the sin bin. Samsonov also rebounded with a couple of strong saves, including a huge glove stop.

Capitals Can’t Carry Over Momentum To Complete Comeback

While Samsonov came back with a strong remainder of the game after a poor showing to start, Washington couldn’t build off a strong second period. The Capitals managed just eight shots in the final period, with a flurry of them coming in a last-ditch effort with Samsonov pulled. There were missed chances and a lack of that fire that the team saw in the middle frame, and it led to a 2-1 loss.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Tom Wilson dropped the gloves with Zack MacEwen early on after MacEwen went after him following a big hit along the boards. It was Wilson’s fourth fight of the season and his second fight in the last 13 days.

  • Speaking of Wilson, he led the way physically for Washington with seven hits.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up his team-leading 35th assist of the season and has hit the 50-point mark for the sixth time in his career. He had just 29 points last season.
  • Nicklas Backstrom picked up a primary helper and now has 15 points in 21 games this season. He is also just five points away from 1,000 in his career.
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk was outstanding for the Capitals, leading the team with a whopping five blocks, including a huge one to shut down the Flyers on the 5-on-3.
  • Michal Kempny drew back into the line with Justin Schultz injured and played a decent game, moving the puck well and having solid chemistry with TVR.
  • Connor McMichael played just 9:26 minutes, while Garnet Hathaway logged just 9:27.