PHILADELPHIA - Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and Tomas Vokoun made 40 saves for the Washington Capitals Thursday night as DC defeated the Flyers 5-2 inside Wells Fargo center to remain unbeaten on the campaign. The Caps also got goals from Roman Hamrlik, Mathieu Perreault, and Joel Ward as they stomped one of the East's best in their barn and proved that they are on a mission this year.
The Capitals were given a 4 on 3 power play early in the contest after coincidental minors and then an additional call on Andreas Lilja, but their man advantage was totally fruitless. With that chance to gain critical early momentum gone, Philadelphia was predictably awarded a power play of their own almost immediately following the expiration of Lilja's penalty. The Caps killed off the penalty with ease, pursuing the puck aggressively and blocking passing lanes exceptionally well.
After a period of back and forth that was controlled slightly by the hosts, Brooks Laich drew a high sticking double minor with a little more than seven minutes left in the fram to give DC a great chance to build elusive offensive momentum. Presented with such a great chance, the Caps immediately shot themselves in the foot when Alex Ovechkin took a horrible interference penalty behind his own net to even the man power. After Alexander Semin gave the puck away at the attacking blue line, Claude Giroux picked up the loose puck and deked Tomas Vokoun out of his pants to send the home side into the lead.
The Caps weren't able to get the goal back when Ovechkin's minor expired and they had some power play time, but were able to equalize a short time later when Mathieu Perreault's shot from the top of the circles was deflected by a Flyer in front and found the bottom corner of Ilya Bryzgalov's net.
Washington's strong finish to the period continued soon after as Alex Ovechkin was able to put Washington into the lead with only 11 seconds left when he was set up in front by Nicklas Backstrom with an open net to shoot at. Even this Ovechkin doesn't miss open nets, and the Captain buried it for a huge momentum-shifting goal.
The second period started out in a bit of a lull, with neither team able to get any momentum going offensively and few good chances on rushes. Washington was awarded another power play with a little more than 14 minutes left in the middle frame, but again could get nothing going with the man advantage, even giving the Flyers some good scoring chances in the process. After the penalty was over, the Flyers grabbed the game by the horns, blitzing the Capitals' net and constantly pressuring in the offensive zone for entire shifts at a time. But Philadelphia could not put one past Vokoun, who continued to play out of his mind.
With 1:59 left in the period, the Caps appeared to have extended their lead to 3-1 when Nicklas Backstrom potted a loose puck after a great net drive by Alex Ovechkin. The referees waved the goal off, however, because it was ruled that Ovechkin had taken Bryzgalov out of the play with incidental contact when he crashed the net. It was a curious call that certainly did not go in Washington's favor, but the period still ended with DC in the lead by one.
Holding a lead at the opening of the third period for fifth time in six games during the young season, Washington was able to extend their lead less than three minutes in when Roman Hamrlik shot from the blue line and the puck managed to flutter through a maze of Flyers and find the back of the net. Immediately after, the Caps were awarded a power play when Chris Pronger was penalized, and Alex Ovechkin made him pay for it by netting his second of the game from the top of the circles to make it 4-1. Joel Ward added to the party less than a minute later with a deflection goal of his own, absolutely silencing the Wells Fargo Center.
As the final period of regulation began to wind down, the Flyers made a late push, aided by a power play with about eight minutes left in the game. They couldn't score, largely in part to more stellar goaltending from Vokoun and some nice shot blocks by Karl Alzner. The Flyers were able to make it 5-2 in the dying seconds of the game, but it was still a comfortable victory for the visitors.
I literally can't get over Tomas Vokoun. Like, the guy is ridiculous. Gets plowed over and over again and has no issues getting right back up and stopping a ton of rubber. I feel for him, too; he really should have only allowed one goal tonight. But it happens. Life goes on, and so does his show. "Vokeswagon," indeed.
Alex Ovechkin found the goal. After five consecutive uninspiring performances by the Caps' captain, he brought it tonight in a measuring stick game against a good team in a tough barn. His first goal in particular was very encouraging, because he's going to need to go to the net more to get goals like that. Still not at his best, however.
Marcus Johansson really hates getting benched, huh? No points for the sophomore super-Swede tonight, but another energized performance. It's early, but dare I say the second line center has been found?
The Caps will practice tomorrow at 11:30 in Arlington before welcoming the Red Wings to Verizon Saturday night. That one is scheduled for 7 PM.