PHILADELPHIA— Andre Burakovsky scored his first goal in 27 games and helped set up another for the Capitals, but it wasn’t to prevent the visitors from falling to the Flyers, 3-2, in a shootout at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.
How it happened: Lars Eller, with some help from Burakovsky, scored his third goal of the season midway through the second period to put the Caps ahead 2-1. The visitors held that lead until the final seconds of the middle frame, when an Evgeny Kuznetsov turnover landed squarely on the stick of Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who ripped a wrist shot past Braden Holtby to send the game into the third period knotted 2-2.
The Caps were gifted a chance with 1:48 remaining in regulation when they were awarded their first power play of the night. But they mustered only one shot—by Alex Ovechkin—and the game went to overtime, which didn’t settle anything, either.
As a result, one of the season’s most exciting games of the season was settled by a skills competition. Wayne Simmonds was credited with the winner.
What it means: The Caps arrived on Broad Street trailing the Flyers by a single standings point in the jammed-up, ultra-competitive Metro Division. They left trailing by two points.
Bura’s back: No one on the Caps needed a goal more than Burakovsky, who had been scratched the previous three games for his lack of goal production. That slump, however, ended emphatically with 1:36 remaining in the first, when the 21-year-old winger cradled a slick pass from Dmitry Orlov and then sent a blistering wrister over Steve Mason’s blocker to open the scoring. Even before Burakosky broke through on the score sheet, he had been one of the Caps’ best players, backchecking with vigor and making plays in the offensive end.
Game of inches: Confusion reigned inside Wells Fargo Center for a few moments early in the second period. The horn sounded. The goal light came on. The capacity crowd erupted. But the refs needed a second look on video review. Michael Raffl’s wraparound attempt hit Holtby’s outstretched stick and flipped up into the air. Just as it crossed the goal line, Carlson used his stick to bat the puck out of midair and away from the cage. Unfortunately for the Caps, though, the puck had already crossed the goal line by a few inches prior to Carlson’s effort. Following a brief review, the correct call was made. Raffl’s seventh goal knotted the game 1-1.
Makin’ a killing: The Flyers’ power play came into the game without a goal in four straight games, but the unit still ranked fifth overall in the NHL. Well, the Caps’ penalty killers made sure it stayed cold. The Flyers did not register a single shot on net with the man advantage.
Makin’ their case: Barry Trotz has made no secret of the fact that he’s still searching for the right mix on the third line. And although it was just one performance, it would seem that the trio of Burakovsky, Eller and Vrana have entered the conversation after a particularly strong night Wednesday. The line combined for two goals, four points and eight shots on goal.
Look ahead: The Caps have 12:30 practice Thursday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. They host the Lightning on Friday. The Bolts are 3-7-2 in their last 12 games and will be playing the back half of a back-to-back after entertaining the Blues on Thursday night. No games are scheduled league-wide Saturday-Monday in observance of Christmas.