The Capitals completely dominated the Flyers in every imaginable category, but were victimized by former teammate Michal Neuvirth, who turned aside all 44 shots he faced in the Flyers’ 1-0 victory Friday night in front of a loud but panic-stricken sellout crowd at Verizon Center.
The Capitals, who raced out to a three games to none lead in the series, have now lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all season and have seen their series lead dwindle to 3-2.
Game 6 is slated for Sunday in Philadelphia, with a time expected to be determined on Saturday.
The Capitals are now 1-8 in their last nine attempts to close out a playoff series, dating back to 2013.
How it happened: The Capitals dominated every facet of the game – except the scoresheet – as Neuvirth erected a wall in front of the visitors’ net. Traded by the Capitals prior to the 2014 trade deadline, Neuvirth kept the Flyers in the game with 30 saves in the opening two periods, including five on Alex Ovechkin. The Flyers got the only goal they needed when Ryan White banked a shot off the skate of Caps defenseman Taylor Chorney and behind Braden Holtby (9 saves on 10 shots) with 7:52 gone in the second period. White’s goal, which came off a Sam Gagner point shot rebound, came 3 seconds after a high-sticking penalty to Justin Williams expired.
Free Willy: Justin Williams somehow managed to spend eight minutes in the penalty box without taking anyone off the ice with him. Williams was hit with a four-minute high sticking penalty for nicking up defenseman Nick Schultz 68 seconds into the game, two more for interfering with Neuvirth 14 minutes later and two more for high sticking Claude Giroux 5:49 in the second period. Williams was out of the box only 3 seconds when Ryan White scored to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Schennanigans: Brayden Schenn skated into Game 5 as a marked man following his two-handed chop to the back of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s right knee in Game 4 and Caps right wing T.J. Oshie wasted no time settling the score. Just 10 seconds after the opening faceoff T.J. Oshie and Schenn agreed to square off. Schenn appeared to connect a few more times in a spirted middleweight bout that both teams applauded with stick taps.
Schenn played like he was shot out of a cannon on nearly every shift, drilling Alex Ovechkin from behind and checking Jay Beagle into the boards.
Ovechkin was equally physical, throwing seven hits in the opening two periods, many of them on Schenn.
What’s next: The Capitals are expected to practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Saturday, then travel to Philadelphia for Game 6 on Sunday. The game could be scheduled for a 3 p.m. start time to accommodate NBC.