Capitals 5, Flyers 3: Defending champs are too much yet again



The Washington Capitals dominated early Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, scoring five goals in the first 25 minutes of the game on their way to handing the Flyers a 5-3 loss.

Flyers netminder Brian Elliott was pulled after allowing four goals on 19 shots. 

It was the first time the Flyers failed to pick up a point since a Feb. 21 loss to the Canadiens.

Here are my observations:

• I had a suspicion that playing without Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek could really hamper the Flyers against a fast-paced, transitional team like the Capitals, a team that is one of the best in the league in moving the puck from zone to zone. Interim head coach Scott Gordon said Tuesday that playing with 11 forwards is not a problem if everyone is in position and where they need to be. At times, the Flyers were caught out of position.

• Gordon used an assortment of different lines right from the opening jump. It was hard to get a read on who was with who to start, but he has done so much mixing and matching that it has become par for the course. Fourth-liner Corban Knight saw extensive ice time, playing over 14 minutes after 17-plus against the Islanders.

• Alex Ovechkin gave us a little bit of everything in the first 23 minutes of this game. His 245th power-play goal was a gimme putt on the golf course with the way the Flyers' penalty killers overcommitted away from Ovechkin, but the play that stands out is how he swept the puck away from Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim and then threaded a pass from his knees to Tom Wilson. Sanheim was in position to make a play, but sometimes you have to tip your hat to greatness.

• This marked the sixth straight home game the Flyers have given up at least one first-period goal. In four of those games, the Flyers have trailed after the opening 20 minutes. You’d like to see the Flyers have cleaner starts on home ice, but that hasn’t been the case at all this season. They’ve allowed 31 first-period goals in 34 home games. 

• There were very few Flyers worthy of praise in this game, but Philippe Myers played solidly through the first 40 minutes. Once again, he was physical in his own zone, he drew an early penalty to give the Flyers a power play, and then added this beauty of a wrist shot that beat Braden Holtby on the glove side.

I’ve had high praise for Myers since he made his NHL debut last month, and I think by the midway point of next season, he’ll be on the top defense pairing with Ivan Provorov.

• Elliott was due for a clunker after playing so well in his first six appearances back from injury. However, against the Caps, when the Flyers needed another big game out of Elliott, he yielded four goals on 19 shots. There are a couple of goals I hang on Elliott — Ovechkin’s power play that slipped through the five-hole and the one glaring mishap, Brett Connolly’s goal that slipped off Elliott’s glove and hit the camera mounted in the back of the net.

• With the victory, Holtby became the second-fastest goaltender to 250 wins in NHL history, and while he has been on some very prolific and successful Washington teams, this has been aided by the advent of the shootout. Holtby has 23 wins in the shootout, which ranks only 29th since it was instituted.

Believe it or not, Steve Mason has the same number of shootout wins as Holtby. The Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist is the NHL’s all-time leader with 61.

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