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Instant Analysis: Capitals blitzed by Flyers, served lopsided road loss

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Instant Analysis: Capitals blitzed by Flyers, served lopsided road loss

A night after firing on all cylinders in a Friday road-win against the Devils, the Capitals (3-2-1) were blitzed and pressured by the Flyers (3-2-0) for three full periods on Saturday night, with Philipp Grubauer surrendering eight goals.

The end result was a lopsided 8-2 loss on in Philadelphia. 

How It Happened: The Flyers were the penultimate team to make their home-opner, with over a full day off since their last game. The Capitals, on the other hand, were facing their first second game of a back-to-back road trip. It was clear which team had fresher legs, with the Flyers blitzing and pressuring the Capitals for the entirity of the 6-goal victory.

Veteran Claude Giroux (2g, 2a) and young gun Sean Couturier (2g, 1a) led the onslaught, with the Flyers outshooting the Capitals (37-23) in all three periods. 

Jakub Vrana netted a goal for the second consecutive night, doing so midway through the first period to even the score 1-1. But the relentless pressure began the break the Capitals as the first period came to a close. Scott Laughton's shorthanded goal with just ove a minute remaining stretched the lead to 2-1. The first intermission couldn't save the Capitals, as Wayne Simmonds (1g, 1a) buried a beautiful feed from Jakub Voracek (0g, 3a) past Grubauer to extend the lead to 3-1. From there, the game was out of reach, with only a Nicklas Backstrom (1g, 0a) goal registering for the Capitals. Another goal for the Flyers made it 5-2 at the end of the second.

The Flyers beat the Capitals to the puck and to the net in the third period as well, registering three more goals. When the horn flowed sounded, the Caps skated off the ice with a 8-2 loss.

Bowey's Debut Hardly Memorable: Madison Bowey was the latest Caps' prospect to make his NHL debut, and it was not one he's likely to remember with much fondest. Bowey got the nod following Matt Niskanen's trip to the Injured Reserve, and while Bowey still has a bright future ahead of him, Saturday night provided a "welocme to the league" experience.

It's wasn't entirely his fault, the Capitals — as a team — struggled against the Flyers, but Bowey's 14:55 of ice time was littered with rookie mistakes. Voracek sent Bowey back to school early in the game, catching the 22-year-old out of position before dishing the puck to Wayne Simmonds for the Flyers' third goal of the game.

Bowey finished with a -3 plus/minus rating and was on the ice for five of the Flyers' goals. 

Looking Ahead: The Capitals get to head home and rest up for the first showdown against Auston Matthews.

The Toronto Maple Leafs head to town on Tuesday, Oct. 17  for the first meeting between the two teams since there memorable first-round series of the 206-17 playoffs. 

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4 reasons why the Caps beat the Senators

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USA TODAY Sports

4 reasons why the Caps beat the Senators

The Capitals head into Thanksgiving on a high note after a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.

Here's why they won.

Line changes

Barry Trotz surprised everyone by changing up the lines and reuniting Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom despite coyly telling the media that he would use the same "group" just two hours before the game. The move worked, however, as an energized Caps team took the ice. The moves were not just felt on the top line, there was a boost all throughout the lineup to start the game and the energy the team played with was evident.

The Caps’ best offensive players looked like their best offensive players

Much has been written in recent days about the Caps’ top-six and its offensive struggles, but they seemed just fine against Ottawa. Ovechkin (1 goal), Backstrom (1 assist), T.J. Oshie (2 assists), Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 goal, 2 assists) and Jakub Vrana (2 goals) all had big nights.

Ovechkin's late first period goal

Multi-goal leads have been hard to come by for the Caps of late. Despite a strong first period, Washington held only a 1-0 lead as the first frame drew to a close. Instead of having a chance to regroup in the locker room, Ottawa found itself suddenly down by two as Ovechkin scored with just five seconds left. That goal set the tone for the start of the second period where Washington was able to tack on another two goals to take the 4-0 lead. Does that momentum carry over to the second without Ovechkin's late tally? I'm not so sure.

Killing a 5-on-3 power play in the second period

Despite the 4-0 deficit, the Senators hung around and scored in the second period to make it 4-1. Then Ovechkin was called for a high-stick and Backstrom got into a bit of a tussle with Ben Harpur after getting a high-stick from him. The ref sent Ovechkin, Backstrom and Harpur to the box. Just 44 seconds later, Tom Wilson joined them after getting called for a slash giving the Senators 1:16 of a two-man advantage power play. One goal would have pulled them within two with over a period left to play. This game was not over. This was a critical moment for Washington and the penalty kill delivered by killing off both penalties. After that, the game really was no longer in doubt.

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3 stars of the game: Caps' stars shine against Senators

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3 stars of the game: Caps' stars shine against Senators

On the eve of Thanksgiving, the Caps gave the home crowd something to be thankful for with a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.

Barry Trotz elected to shake up the offensive lines before the game and it seemed to work. The Caps took control of the game from the drop of the puck and took a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period and never looked back.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Jakub Vrana

Vrana opened the scoring by crashing the net and was in perfect position for the rebound off of a shot from Evgeny Kuznetsov. His second goal came off a perfect shot, and I do mean perfect. This was the first multi-goal game of his NHL career and his third multi-point game. 

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov

This is why Kuznetsov should shoot more. Vrana's first goal came off a rebound from a shot by Kuznetsov. It was his first even-strength point since Nov. 6. On a power play in the second period, a loose puck came to Kuznetsov's stick. Rather than look for the pass as he has been his tendency, he did not hesitate. He shot it and the result was his third power play goal of the season. Kuznetsov finished with one goal and two assists.

3. Alex Ovechkin

Despite how dominant the first period looked for Washington, they still held only a 1-0 lead. What really set the tone for the game was Ovechkin's first period goal. A quick passing play from Nicklas Backstrom to Alex Chiasson to Ovechkin found the Great 8 behind Ottawa's defense. He finished off the play with the goal to put Washington up 2-0 with just five seconds left in the period. That turned a good period into a dominant one and really set the tone for the start of the second in which the Caps were able to put up another two goals.