WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington Capitals didn’t get the start they wanted against the Philadelphia Flyers, and it cost them in the end.
Washington suffered from a tired first 40 minutes of play where Philadelphia appeared to dominate all over the ice. A third-period strike from Brett Leason woke the team up, but ultimately, the Capitals could never completely recover from those first two periods and fell 2-1 in regulation.
The Capitals are now 5-2-4 to open the season and have lost their last three decisions.
Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:
Capitals Struggle To Open Saturday’s Tilt
It was a bit of a challenge for Washington to really get anything going against the Flyers. The ice was tilted in Philly’s favor, and the Capitals couldn’t seem to do much to generate scoring chances or really get anything on goal. They managed just six shots in the first and had 11 in the second, and were ultimately outshot 26-17 heading into the last frame.
“We seemed sleepy in the first and outworked in the second,” head coach Peter Laviolette explained. “The third I tought we had some game going on and we were pushing trying to get a win. But it’s difficult and try to win hockey games relying on coming behind by two goals in the third period to have to win a game. We need to be better earlier.”
Young Guys Step Up For The Capitals
Right now, the Capitals are playing shorthanded with just 12 healthy forwards. With Anthony Mantha out indefinitely, and T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom on the shelf, Washington has called on its youth and depth players to step up and help fill the void. And ultimately, it was the kids who woke up the team in the third period, as Leason, Connor McMichael and Hendrix Lapierre took the ice together.
McMichael made an outstanding play, moving his feet and flying down the ice before sneaking the puck to a waiting Leason, who ripped it past Martin Jones to put the Capitals on the board in the third period.
Leason now has three points in four games since his call-up, and McMichael has points in back-to-back games. Lapierre, meanwhile, had a strong effort, getting more engaged in puck battles and moving his feet while generating a couple of good looks to boot.
“I think I’ve just been playing my game, going hard whenever I can, just go out on the forecheck and that generates a lot of chances… I think I’m getting more comfortable each and every game,” Leason said.
Capitals Shake Up The Lines
With little momentum early on, head coach Peter Laviolette elected to shake up the lines a bit. Daniel Sprong showed a lot of speed and jump over the course of the game, and ended up taking Tom Wilson’s spot on the first line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. Wilson, in turn, was playing alongside Lars Eller and Conor Sheary, who slotted in for Lapierre at 2LW. The Carl Hagelin-Nic Dowd-Garnet Hathaway combination stayed together.
Looking at the team’s overall play, John Carlson said that possession and turnovers led to the Capitals’ demise in Saturday’s tilt.
“They played a good first two periods and we didn’t do ourselves any favors,” Carlson noted. “Sometimes, those things are going to happen. They were throwing pucks everywhere, bouncing everywhere and they played good. We really got to weather the storm a little bit better and focus more on what we can do.”
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- The Capitals’ power play continues to struggle and went 0-for-3 against Philly.
- Ovechkin led Washington with six shots and led all forwards with 22:16 minutes. He needs one more goal to tie Brett Hull for fourth on the NHL’s all-time goals list.
- Wilson had a strong showing and a good all-around game. He moved his feet, generated speed, threw his weight around and battled for the puck. He ended the night with three shots, two hits and a block in 19:33 minutes on the ice.
- Sprong also looked solid with four shots and a lot of speed and grit out there.
- Leason led all rookies with three shots on goal.