PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This is still very early and the Flyers, for the most part, are a young team that hasn’t been tested. For two periods, it seemed as if this young, unproven team was staying with one of the premier teams in the National Hockey League. But you could tell that it was going to come—eventually. The Washington Capitals aren’t the best team in the NHL for nothing. The Caps move fast, much faster than the Flyers. Washington possesses players that can change direction effortlessly, with amazing stick skills. Caps’ goalie Tomas Vokoun has been nothing short of amazing through Washington’s first five games.
So the wave would come. It was just a matter of how the Flyers would handle it. For two periods, they did. Then the Caps arrived, the 5-0 Caps—in a big way. In a span of 2-minutes, 25-seconds Washington scored three unanswered goals making what had been a close game into a 5-2 laugher before a deflated, muted crowd at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night.
Washington remained undefeated and untied at 6-0, while the Flyers fell to 4-1-1, giving up a season-high five goals. Caps’ superstar Alexander Ovechkin scored twice, Mathieu Perreault scored a goal and had an assistant for the Caps.
Boos started raining down on the Flyers a number of times, especially after the five-minute mark of the third period.
It did start well for the Flyers. Claude Giroux scored on a breakaway, thanks to a hustle play by Wayne Simmonds, who whirled around and knocked the puck loose at the blue line into neutral ice where Giroux picked it up in mid-stride, then easily veered the puck around Vokoun. Sean Couturier, the Flyers’ 18-year-old rookie, bookended the Philadelphia scoring with a goal in the closing seconds—his second goal in the NHL.
Flyers were stung by giveaways in the first period. Two turnovers were pounced on by the Caps to answer Giroux’s goal, giving Washington a 2-1 lead it never relinquished. Being whistled for three penalties in the opening stanza, one a double minor on Braydon Coburn’s high-sticking call, didn’t help the Flyers.
“The penalties come in waves for us right now, and we did turn the puck over a little bit, and they have a quick transition team so they came back,” Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette said. “The first period, I didn’t mind the way we were playing at all. We made a mistake and we had a little bit of a let down there.”
Flyers’ captain Chris Pronger saw many of the same things that could spell trouble if they continue this season.
“At some point, [the turnovers] were going to come back to get us and it did tonight,” Pronger said. “You stop supporting the puck and stop turning the puck over, that’s when bad things happen when you stop moving your feet. We got a decent start to the first period, and penalties in the first period ruined the flow. We turned the puck over the last five minutes, and they got to us. The word of the day seems to be turnovers and penalties.”
After holding the Caps scoreless in the second period, it all came apart during a 145-second span. Roman Hamrlik started it by beating Flyers’ goalie Ilya Bryzgalov for a 3-1 Caps’ lead, and less than a minute later, Ovechkin scored his second of the game. Joel Ward ended the three-goal storm, and before the Flyers knew it, they were looking up at a 5-1 deficit.
“We were very sure we’d win the game [entering the third period], we spent some time in the offensive zone and tried to create some scoring chances,” Bryzgalov said. “A couple deflections and we weren’t there anymore. Everyone understands if you make mistakes in the neutral zone, it will cost you. The difference in the game tonight was four deflections in the game. I know [Washington], and you can know exactly the player for sure, but sometimes a defenseman makes them shoot from a different spot.”
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito