PHILADELPHIA -- Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ agonizing 2-1 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center:
How it happened: Hours after saying it would be “cool” to score 50 goals this season, Alex Ovechkin rifled No. 44 past Steve Mason 1:28 into the third period to break a scoreless tie and give the Caps a 1-0 lead 1:28 into the third period. A hooking penalty on Marcus Johansson 12:57 into the final period put the Flyers on the power play and Brayden Schenn tied the score when he redirected a Claude Giroux shot past Braden Holtby with 5:28 remaining in the period. After a wild but scoreless overtime, T.J. Oshie was stopped by Mason; Nick Cousins scored five-hole on Braden Holtby; Evgeny Kuznetsov was stopped on a glove save by Mason; Sam Gagner ended it with a snap shot past Holtby.
What it means: The Capitals (54-16-6, 114 points) will need to wait another two days to break the franchise record for wins in a season (55, set by the 2009-10 Caps). The Flyers secured sole possession of eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings, two points ahead of the Detroit Red Wings and two behind the Islanders. The Flyers have six games left; the Red Wings five.
Holt-beast: Braden Holtby was nearly impenetrable, stopping 33 of 34 shots through 65 minutes. He remains two wins short of Martin Brodeur’s NHL record of 48 set in 2006-07. Holtby is one win away from tying Bernie Parent (1973-74) and Roberto Luongo (2006-07) for second on the all-time list with 47 wins in a single season.
Russian connection: Caps coach Barry Trotz said he wanted to reignite the offensive flames of Alex Ovechkin (2 goals in his previous 12 games) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (0 points in his previous five games) and although the two did not connect at even strength they did on the power play, with Kuznetsov finding Ovechkin in the left circle and Ovechkin cradling, then rifling a shot past Mason’s catching glove. OIvechkin’s goal came 2 seconds after a penalty to Brandon Manning.
Oshie in, Latta out: T.J. Oshie decided after warmups that he was well enough to play and he took a regular shift on a third line with Jason Chimera and Jay Beagle.
Look ahead: The Caps will use Thursday as a travel day. They visit the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
MORE CAPITALS: Trotz has an 'honest' talk with struggling Orlov
CHICAGO—Four fans were ejected from United Center on Saturday night for taunting Devante Smith-Pelly as the Capitals’ winger sat in the penalty box.
The fans, according to a team spokesman, yelled “basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. Smith-Pelly was in the box for fighting in the third period of an eventual 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks.
The taunts were confirmed by an off-ice official, the spokesman said, and the fans were subsequently removed from the arena.
Smith-Pelly did not speak with reporters after the game but is expected to address the incident at the team’s next media availability. The team is scheduled to practice Sunday at KeyBank Center in Buffalo.
Caps Coach Barry Trotz did not hold back when asked about the fans' comments.
“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. …It just shows ignorance.”
The Blackhawks responded on Twitter with an apology to Smith-Pelly, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL.
February is Hockey is For Everyone month in the NHL.
Just about everything that could go wrong did for the Capitals on Saturday in a 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Caps were coming off a strong 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, but none of that carried over in the trip to Chicago. The Caps took on a Blackhawks team that had lost eight in a row, but Chicago quickly took control in the first period and never looked back.
Washington gave up 21 shots on goal in the first period and found themselves down 3-1 after the opening frame. Things did not get much better from there as they gave up another three goals in the final four minutes of the second.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Jonathan Toews: Toews opened up the scoring in the first period with a quick shot from the corner that caught Braden Holtby by surprise.
Later in the first, he recorded an assist as his pass sparked a breakout that led to Brandon Saad's deal that gave Chicago back the lead. The Caps tried to make a game of it in the second period, but Toews intercepted a pass from Brooks Orpik that led to a 2-on-0 with himself and Patrick Kane that Kane netted to give the Blackhawks a 4-1 lead and signaled to everyone that the rout was on. Saturday was only the second three-point night of the season for Toews.
2. Patrick Kane: Toews helped the Blackhawks take control early, but Kane helped provide the knockout punches in the second period. A bad pass from Orpik was intercepted by Toews that led to a 2-on-0 with Kane. Holtby made the initial save on Toews, but Kane was able to knock in the rebound for the goal.
Kane also added an assist on Artem Anisimov's power play goal which extended Chicago's lead to 6-1.
3. Tom Wilson: Before this one got out of hand, it looked like Wilson had erased the tough start for the Caps as he deflected a shot from Matt Niskanen into the net to get Washington on the board.
Saturday's tally was his third goal in two games and his 10th of the season, marking the first time in his career he has reached double digits in goals.