Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday at Verizon Center:
How it happened: Matt Niskanen morphed into Bobby Orr, going ended to end and weaving through four Flyers en route to beating goaltender Steve Mason and a tie score 5:54 into the third period. Niskanen entered the game with just two goals on 91 shots. The Caps fell behind early on a goal by Michael Del Zotto but grabbed a 2-1 lead on goals by Alex Ovechkin, his 30th, and Dmitry Orlov, his fifth. The Flyers pulled even at 2-2 just 51 seconds into the third period when Pierre-Edouard Bellemare beat T.J. Oshie cleanly on a faceoff and defenseman Nick Schultz hammered a shot past a screened Braden Holtby.
What it means: The Caps increased their Metro Division lead over the Rangers to 17 points and have won three straight following a two-game losing streak. The Flyers remained four points out of a playoff spot and fell to 1-2-0 against the Caps this season. The Caps also improved to 16-8-2 on Super Bowl Sundays, 16-7-1 at home.
Chasing history: Alex Ovechkin’s second-period goal, which came on a net-front deflection of a Karl Alzner point shot, gave him 30 goals for the 11th time in his NHL career. Only two other NHL players have begun their careers with 11 straight seasons of 30 or more goals. Mike Gartner did it 15 straight seasons with four different teams. Wayne Gretzky did it in his first 13 NHL seasons. Ovechkin also moved within two goals of Chicago’s Patrick Kane in pursuit of his sixth Rocket Richard trophy.
Chasing Marty: Caps goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 33 shots to improve his NHL-best record to 33-5-3. He also improved to 3-0-0 on the back end of back-to-back games, allowing two goals in each of those three victories. Holtby is three wins ahead of the pace Marty Brodeur was on when he broke Bernie Parent’s NHL record with 48 wins in 2006-07. Holtby is 25-1-3 in his last 29 decisions and is on pace for 52 wins.
Chasing 100: Karl Alzner and Evgeny Kuznetsov each picked up their 99th career point with assists. Alzner’s came in his 478th career game. Kuznetsov’s came in his 148th game. So who would get to keep the puck if one passes to the other for their 100th NHL points?
Power outage: The Caps went 0-for-2 on the power play and are now in an 0-for-17 funk over their past five games. The last time they went six games without a power-play goal was in the second round of last year’s playoff loss to the Rangers.
Injury update: Brooks Orpik (lower body) missed his 37th straight game and Marcus Johansson missed his fourth straight. Both are expected to join the Caps on their three-game road trip next week. Jay Beagle is hoping to return to practice when the Caps return to Kettler on Feb. 15.
What’s next: The Caps will use Monday as a travel day to Nashville, where they’ll begin a three-game road trip Tuesday night against the Predators. They’ll follow with a practice in Minnesota on Wednesday, a game against the Wild on Thursday and a visit to Dallas on Saturday. They return home to face the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 16.
MORE CAPITALS: Holtby: 'The only stat I care about is wins'