Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 2-1 loss to the Flyers Wednesday night at Verizon Center:
How it happened: The Flyers swarmed early, ringing a shot off the right post on their opening shift. The Capitals answered with a wide open net on their next shift and Evgeny Kuznetsov’s slapper rang off the left post. Caps defenseman Taylor Chorney, playing his first playoff game in place of Brooks Orpik, took an interference penalty and the Flyers netted their first power play goal in 14 attempts when Shayne Gostisbehere celebrated his 23rd birthday with his first career playoff goal, one-timing a Claude Girouz pass through a screen provided by Wayne Simmonds. Replays showed Ssimmonds made contact with Holtby outside the crease and the Capitals challenged the call, but it was deemed Holtby had a chance to make the save and the Caps lost their timeout. It stayed that way until 3:51 into the second period when Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald again scored through a screen. The shot didn’t appear dangerous but it sailed past Caps defenseman Karl Alzner and past Holtby, who never moved. The Caps barely tested Michal Neuvirth in the opening two periods with most of their 19 shots coming from the perimeter. The Caps finally got on the board 2:38 into the third period with some old-fashioned net crashing. T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin drove the net and Oshie backhanded Matt Niskanen’s rebound over a prone Neuvirth for his first goal of the series.
What it means: The Caps’ failed to earn their first-ever playoff sweep, but can finish off the Flyers with a win in Game 5 Friday night at Verizon Center. The Caps have lost 13 straight playoff games when Braden Holtby has allowed at least 2 goals. Ironically, before Game 4 the Capitals had just two regulation losses this season (regular season/playoffs) when allowing two or fewer goals (48-2-2 record).
Dirty stuff: With 5:53 remaining in the second period, after Kuznetsov failed to score on a centering pass from Justin Williams, Flyers center Braden Schenn gave Kuznetsov a two-handed cross-check into the back of his right knee.
Scary moment: With 3:49 remaining in the first period the crowd fell silent when Caps defenseman John Carlson checked Flyers forward Scott Laughton awkwardly into the boards. The two players made contact about 10 feet from the boards and Laughton lay motionless on the ice until he was lifted onto a stretcher. According to a statement issued by the Flyers, Laughton was taken to nearby Jefferson Hospital for precautionary reasons.
D pairings: Chorney made his first playoff appearance as a Capital (he played for Pittsburgh last season) on a third defense pairing with Dmitry Orlov. That meant a promotion for Nate Schmidt, who played alongside John Carlson.