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Caps' Andre Burakovsky 'shocked' to score Wednesday

Caps' Andre Burakovsky 'shocked' to score Wednesday

PHILADELPHIA—Andre Burakovsky responded to his benching exactly how Coach Barry Trotz hoped he would—by producing his best performance in weeks.

The 21-year-old winger scored his first goal in 27 games and registered a secondary assist on Lars Eller’s tally in Wednesday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Flyers.

“Once I saw the puck go in,” Burakovsky said, “I was kind of shocked.”

Burakovsky had been a healthy scratch the previous three games. During that time out of the lineup, he said he worked on getting his shots off faster and getting better at detecting soft spots in the D-zone coverage.

RELATED: Burakovsky scores, but Caps fall in shootout to Flyers

That work, it seems, paid off at Wells Fargo Center, where Burakovsky finished with a team-high five shots on goal. The total marked the most he’s logged in a single game since he took seven at Arizona last April 2.

“Yeah, it was good to get back in and finally get a goal again,” he said. “It’s been a while. It’s about time and I thought I played a very good game today. I had a lot of opportunities to get [the puck] in. I was really confident with the puck and it was fun to get back in [the lineup].”

Eller said he hopes it’s the start of something for the young winger.

“It’s good,” said Eller, who scored his first goal since Nov. 5, a span of 19 games. “It’s a good confidence booster for him. And it’s good for the team. When Andre is good, we’re a better team. He has a big capacity to score a lot of goals.”

Trotz has acknowledged in recent days that he’s still searching for the right mix for the third line. He liked what he saw Wednesday night from the combination of Burakovsky, Eller and Jakub Vrana but wouldn’t commit to it going forward. The trio accounted for both goals, four points and eight shots on net.

“Big picture, Lars and Burakovsky were very good,” Tritz said. “Same with Vrana. That line got us two goals. I thought that was great for both of them. You can see Lars’ game coming [and] with Burakovsky we’re hoping it would come. That line was good for us tonight.”

Trotz added: “All three of them have been pretty good. [But] we have Brett Connolly who has been on that line. He was pretty good and I took him out because we were trying to find something that works. We’ll see what we do here the next couple of days.”

Burakovsky said he liked the line’s chemistry.

“I think our whole line was playing really solid today,” he said. “I thought Vrana was skating and winning battles. Lars, as well. I think Lars is one of the hardest guys on the puck, he protects the puck really good and he gets the puck back a lot for me and Vrana. I think it’s a good line combination and we had a really strong game.”

As much as Burakovsky liked the way his line played, he liked seeing his wrist shot beat Steve Mason’s blocker even more.

“It was just one game [but] I’m just going to keep doing the same job I did tonight,” Burakovsky said. “I think I had a really good game and it was a lot of fun to finally get one.”

MORE CAPITALS: Joe Biden in attendance at Caps-Flyers game

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Flyers continue their dominance over the Capitals in round robin win

Flyers continue their dominance over the Capitals in round robin win

The Philadelphia Flyers had the Capitals' number in the regular season and that carried over to the postseason even five months later. Travis Boyd scored the Caps' lone goal in a lackluster performance as they fell 3-1 to the Flyers on Thursday. The loss means Washington will finish third or fourth in the round robin.

Here's why the Caps lost.

Too many penalties

Washington did not give up a single power play in the first round robin game against Tamap Bay. The team certainly made up for lost time on Thursday with a parade to the penalty box. The Caps faced six power plays all through the first two periods. This was not just a case of referees calling the game tight, these were blatant, obvious, bone-headed penalties.

The penalty kill was actually very good and finished perfect on the day, killing off all six power plays. That's good, but the effect of taking so many penalties was evident. Washington was chasing the play, the offense had no rhythm and no momentum.

On Monday, a T.J. Oshie fight sparked the team to rally from a two-goal deficit. On Thursday, the team was playing physically, but it was just reckless and completely took them out of their game.

RELATED: ALL OF THE ROUND ROBIN SCENARIOS TIED TO CAPITALS VS. FLYERS

Faceoffs

You can't score if you don't have the puck. Metrics like Corsi are used to measure possession and in that category Washington broke even at 50-percent. But in another possession metric, Washington was blitzed: The faceoff.

When a team wins a faceoff, they begin the play with possession and Philadelphia got the better of the Caps by a wide margin, winning 67-percent of the faceoffs.

The Flyers were the best faceoff team through the regular season and that was evident on Thursday as they dominated the Caps at the dot.

A bad turnover

Radko Gudas will want this one back. With the puck on his stick behind the goal line, Gudas put on the brakes to shake off the pressure from Travis Konecny. Konecny skated by, but Gudas put the puck on his backhand and tried to pass it through Kevin Hayes who easily picked it off along the boards. Suddenly the Caps were out of position and Konecny was wide open in front of the net. He took the pass, delivered a pretty no-look spin pass behind him to Scott Laughton for the slam dunk.

Nicklas Backstrom clipped the skate of Braden Holtby on the play, not allowing Holtby the chance to stretch out for the save attempt on Laughton, but frankly, he was not going to get there anyway.

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The Flyers' movement

Philadelphia generated a lot of room in the offensive zone with the constant movement of its forwards. This seems obvious -- it's hockey, after all -- but the Caps' defense could not keep up.

Hayes had all eyes on him as he stickhandled around in Washington's defensive zone. He battled with Jonas Siegenthaler in the corner, then retreated to the top of the circle, closely followed by Siegenthaler. Dmitry Orlov drifted up and to the left, Siegenthaler's side, as Hayes continued to stickhandle. That left room for Travis Sanheim who skated in behind the right side of the defense. Hayes found him and he beat Holtby one-on-one for Philadelphia's second goal.

In the third period, Orlov went behind the net after Travis Konecny who passed it off to Hayes. Siegenthaler went after Hayes while Konecny stopped behind the net. As Hayes stickhandled on the right, Laughton charged in from the left where there was no defense to be found. Kuznetsov recognized the net was open and parked in front, but was too far up. Laughton put the puck into the net before Kuznetsov or either of the two defensemen could even react.

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All of the round robin scenarios tied to Capitals vs. Flyers

All of the round robin scenarios tied to Capitals vs. Flyers

If you're a Capitals fan, you may be tired of hearing about how these round robin games "matter." With the other teams playing actual playoff series, it's hard to view the round robin games the same way. While there may not be as much on the line Thursday for the Caps and the Philadelphia Flyers (4 p.m., NBC Sports Washington) as there is in the qualification series, that doesn't mean Thursday's game doesn't matter. With only three round robin games, there is a lot riding on this game.

Here are the standings heading in:

Tampa Bay 4 points (2 games played)
Philadelphia 2 points (1 game played)
Washington 1 point (1 game played)
Boston 0 points (2 games played)

With that in mind, here are all the possible scenarios for the Caps in Thursday's game.

If the Caps win in regulation...

Washington will finish ahead of Boston, but can still finish in first, second or third overall. The Caps will finish in first if they beat Boston on Sunday AND Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday.

If the Caps win in overtime or a shootout...

The scenario is exactly the same as above. Washington will finish ahead of Boston, but can still finish in first, second or third overall. The Caps will finish in first if they beat Boston on Sunday AND Tampa Bay loses in regulation to Philadelphia on Saturday.

It doesn't matter if the win is in regulation, overtime or a shootout. Just win baby.

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If the Caps lose in overtime or a shootout...

Washington could finish in second, third or fourth place, but will be out of the running for first. The Caps will earn second place if they beat Boston in the round robin finale AND Philadelphia loses in regulation to Tampa Bay on Saturday.

If the Caps lose in regulation...

The highest Washington could finish is in third place. The winner of Sunday's Boston-Washington game will determine who is in third and who is fourth.

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