“We wanted to score on the power play, more for me on the confidence of the power play and it won us the game so it worked out. I thought we were pretty patient and showed a lot of good restraint today. We didn’t retaliate and that was good.” -- Coach Bruce Boudreau
THE RESULT: The Washington Capitals ended the Philadelphia Flyers sixth game winning streak in front of the 68th consecutive sellout crowd at Verizon Center on Sunday night. The game went to overtime and Mike Green scored the winning power play goal to give the Caps their tenth win of the season with the 3-2 victory over the Flyers.
A couple of changes in the standings. The Washington Capitals are now on top in the Eastern Conference for the first time this season and Alex Semin is now the team leader in goals with nine.
Braden Holtby got the nod tonight for his first NHL start. Getting a start is big, however, starting against a rival on a hot streak is even bigger. Holtby seemed to handle the pressure well. “It’s definitely huge, but on a team like this, if a goalie just kind of gives the team a chance to win, they usually are going to pull through some goals. It definitely gave me a lot of confidence coming in.”
Holtby gave up his first NHL goal to Nikolay Zherdev in the first period. “I knew it was going to happen sooner or later, that they were going to score on me. I came into the game hoping for a victory and I knew I wasn’t going to get a shutout in my first game. [I] Came in and just tried to get the victory and work my way up.”
Coming into this game, the Flyers and Caps had basically the same record at 9-4-1 and 9-4-0 respectively. The Caps may have had a small advantage in that they were off on Saturday night while the Flyers played and the fatigue showed on the ice. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said, “Not our best hockey, but there was a lot of stuff we did well and a lot of stuff we can work on. To get three points out of four is pretty good.”
Eric Fehr scored his third goal of the season and the first of the night for the Caps that went to the upper right-hand corner of the net. John Erskine and Tyler Sloan were credited as the helpers. "We expect that third line to be able to chip in" said Coach Boudreau. "When Eric is shooting and scoring, it certainly makes a big difference."
The Flyers had three times as many penalty minutes than the Caps, however, it wasn't until the middle of the third period that the Caps took advantage of the power play. Nicklas Backstrom picked up an Alex Ovechkin rebound and passed to Alex Semin who easily got the puck past Sergei Bobrovsky. The goal was Semin's ninth of the season and the fourth game in a row in which he scored.
Neither team scored in the third period. The Flyers O'Donnell took a boarding penalty at the end of the third while tied up at two so it was 5-on-3 for 18.1 of third period since Pronger was still serving his time for double-minor high sticking penalty. This meant more power play time in overtime for the Capitals.
It only took twenty-nine seconds for Mike Green to score the winning power play goal assisted by Backstrom and Mike Knuble. "Everything felt stable out there," Green said. "It felt composed and there was no panic. In the past we've got into situations where we panicked and there was confusion and I think tonight we were pretty stable."
The Capitals have four games in the next week. Neuvrith and Holtby may each get a few starts with the grueling schedule ahead, especially now that Boudreau is comfortable with Holtby in front of the net. “In the first two periods I thought he looked a little nervous, but once they started getting some shots in the third period I thought he made a great game-saving save there in that flurry, moving from side to side. So, I think he handled himself overall really well for his first complete game.”
“We’re in the mix. Not saying we’re better or worse, but we’re in the mix that we can compete against the better teams" said Boudreau. "Next week is no different… this whole league is good.”
We saved the bad news for last (well, hopefully it is not serious). Coach Bruce Boudreau announced in post-game presser that Brooks Laich is out with "upper body injury." Brooks wanted to play, but doctors kept him out as a precaution.
INTERESTING NOTES AND STATS FROM CAPS:
• The Capitals won their fourth straight game and improved to 5-0 in overtime games this season. The win lifts Washington into a tie with Philadelphia atop the Eastern Conference and snapped the Flyers’ six-game winning streak.
• Mike Green, tonight’s first star, scored his fourth goal of the season 29 seconds into the overtime session and is currently riding a four-game goal scoring streak and a five-game point streak (four goals, four assists). The Capitals are 4-0-0 when Green registers a goal.
• The overtime goal was the fifth of Green’s career, tied for second in Capitals history with Peter Bondra and Kelly Miller. Only Alex Ovechkin (8) has more career overtime goals for the Capitals.
• Braden Holtby, in his first NHL start, became the third straight Caps’ goaltender to start his career 2-0-0. He turned away 25 shots, including all eight he faced in the third.
• Tonight's goaltenders are the two youngest to start games in the NHL this season (Holtby, 21, and Sergei Bobrovsky, 22).
• Eric Fehr opened the scoring for the Caps and recorded his third goal of the season with 2:31 left in the first period. Fehr has scored all of his six points (three goals, three assists) this season at Verizon Center. The Capitals improved to 3-0-0 when Fehr scores a goal and 5-0-0 when he registers a point.
• Alexander Semin scored his team-high ninth goal of the year – a power-play goal - at 8:54 into the second period. Semin extended his goal and point streak to four games (four goals, three assists), his best since notching his career-best six-game goal streak from Feb. 26 to Mar. 8, 2009. The Capitals are 7-0-0 when Semin scores a goal and 6-0-0 when the team records a power play goal.
• Alex Ovechkin extended his point streak to six games (four goals, six assists) when he assisted on Semin’s tally in the second period. Ovechkin has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) through 14 games to lead the team and is now tied for sixth in Caps history with 547 career points in 410 GP (matching Mike Ridley).
• With Semin’s nine goals and Ovechkin’s eight, the Capitals are the only team in the league with two eight-plus goal scorers. The duo has combined for eight goals and 16 points in the past four games.
• David Steckel was 80% at the faceoff dot tonight, winning eight of the 10 faceoffs he took.
• Semin recorded a game-high seven shots on goal tonight.
• Green skated a game-high 30:26 in ice time tonight, the fourth time this year he has surpassed 30 minutes of ice time.
• Washington posted a 3-0-0 record during this homestand, and is now 7-1-0 at Verizon Center – the best home record in the NHL (through the end of tonight’s game).
• The Capitals have won five straight overtime games for the second time under head coach Bruce Boudreau (also won six in a row from Jan. 5 to Feb. 10, 2008).
NEXT GAME: Tuesday, November 9, 2010 at NY Rangers