The showdown for first in the East took place in the seat of the nation’s government as the Flyers took on the Washington Capitals. It was a battle of the rookie goaltenders, with Sergei Bobrovsky making his seventh consecutive start against Braden Holtby – starting his first game in relief of fellow rookie Michal Neuvirth.
Between the two of them, Bobrovsky had the harder time for sure, facing 39 shots to Holyby’s 25.
For the most part, the two teams found themselves pretty evenly matched, complementing each other perfectly. The Capitals with a dynamic offense led by a top few scorers in Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin, the Flyers led by their defensive prowess and well-rounded scoring depth.
This game, the Flyers didn’t decide the outcome with the goals coming off of their sticks, but rather with the penalties they were committing with them. Out of the six minor penalties taken – including one double minor – five of them were committed with the stick. Four high sticking calls and a hooking penalty. Compare this to the two minor penalties taken by the Capitals, and it starts to become clear why the Flyers fell victim to this dangerous scoring threat.
The Flyers stepped out to a first period lead as Nikolay Zherdev ripped a shot past Holtby during a 2-on-1 set up by Andreas Nodl. Washington was in control, however. Eric Fehr evened up the score later that period.
Bobrovsky kept the Flyers in the game during the first period and throughout the rest of the night. The Flyers didn’t play a bad game, but the Capitals’ advantage in puck control and offense gave them the advantage as they drew penalties and were able to capitalize on the chances it gave them.
After Ville Leino put the Flyers up early in the second period, Alexander Semin teamed up with the rest of the Cap’s hotshots and put one past Bobrovsky to tie the game at 2.
The third period was to the Flyers advantage it seemed, with them controlling the puck well, but with the Capitals keeping the Flyers from getting much in the way of shots.
Ultimately, the penalties caught up with them as Chris Pronger took a four minute double minor for high sticking. The Flyers killed it off successfully, but as the penalty came to a close with seconds remaining in the final frame, Sean O’Donnell took a penalty of his own.
Down a man in the overtime period, the Flyers were unable to hold off the surging Capitals as the prototypical offensive defenseman Mike Green beat “Bob” to steal the win for the hometown team.
Tied with the Flyers at 20 points, the Capitals have played one less game and hold the top spot in the conference.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Penalties: The Flyers have continually been amongst the top teams in the league in penalties – specifically minor penalties. Early on this season, it’s proving that nothing has changed. The Flyers, therefore, have a penalty kill that needs to be one of the best as well. So far, this has been working, but it’s something that they can’t hold on to forever. There will always be games like these, where teams take advantage of the chances given them and put the Flyers away.
Sergei Bobrovsky: Coming into this game, Bobrovsky had the chance to match the great Pelle Lindbergh in the history of Flyers hockey, tying a rookie goalie record with seven straight wins. He may not have reached that mark, but his sharp play on the night kept the Flyers alive, taking them into overtime and stealing a point from what otherwise could have been a straight loss.