Jakub Vrana scored two goals and had an assist as the Capitals began a new winning streak with a 5-3 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at Capital One Arena on Tuesday. T.J. Oshie had two goals also.
Washington (26-12-4) remained in first place in the Metropolitan Division with the win and has 56 points. Here are five reasons why the Caps won:
Vrana’s big night
The 22-year-old winger has come into his own and it’s taking pressure off the Capitals’ star players. Jakub Vrana had two goals and an assist in the win. He has now set a career high in goals (14) just 42 games into the season. He has 24 points now and is three shy of the 27 he had last year. Most impressive? His first goal when he waited patiently at the blueline and then ripped off the Philadelphia defenseman. Vrana’s speed is something else. It’s not Connor McDavid. But he’s fast and he pulled away for what became a breakaway goal to give Washington a 3-1 lead. Oh – and his pass to a hard-charging Tom Wilson for the game’s first goal was a thing of beauty, too.
A power-play goal. Finally
Maybe the Caps didn’t absolutely need one to win. But they needed one for their own confidence. Since Dec. 15 Washington was 1-for-31 on the power play. They had dropped to 11thin the league. With the talent on this team they shouldn’t be struggling over 10 games like this. Vrana and the second power-play unit took care of that with his bad-angle shot off goalie Mike McKenna and in at 15:55 of the second period. That made it 4-1. Washington still only finished 1-for-4 on the man advantage, but it’s a start.
There’s a reason Caps coach Todd Reirden keeps going to backup goalie Pheonix Copley. He keeps earning the net. If that helps starter Braden Holtby get some needed rest during the season, that’s all the better. Copley made 37 saves on 40 Philadelphia shots.It was his fifth start in the past 11 games. He is 4-0-1 and his save percentage is among the best in the league for a goalie with at least 10 starts.
No Nick, no problem
Nicklas Backstrom missed the game with an illness. Lars Eller simply did what he did last spring in the Stanley Cup playoffs when Backstrom was out with a broken finger for four games in the second and third rounds. Eller bumped up to the second line and had a dominant shift at even strength in the second period. He helped keep the puck pinned in the Flyers’ zone and finally ripped a point shot that teammate T.J. Oshie deflected home for a 2-1 lead.
Slowly but surely Washington’s penalty kill is improving. There’s still a ways to go, but it managed to kill off all four Philadelphia power plays and is 28-for-31 since Dec. 21 (nine games). They’ll take what they can get. The Flyers had seven power-play shots.
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