By: Nick Lanciani
Braden Holtby and the Washington Capitals shutout the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-0, in front of a rowdy crowd on home ice at the Verizon Center on Thursday night.
Holtby made 19 saves en route to the shutout victory, while Steve Mason made 29 saves on 31 shots against in the loss.
About midway into the first period, Brooks Orpik went on a string of taking penalties, including an illegal hit to the head of Nick Cousins, which the Flyers were unable to capitalize on. Philadelphia was leading 11-8 in shots on goal after twenty minutes of play, while failing to convert on three power play opportunities.
The second period saw the Capitals go on the power play early in the period as Flyers defenseman, Mark Streit, was sent to the box for holding almost three minutes into the second frame. Washington was unable to convert on the power play. At 8:50 of the second period, Dmitry Orlov was sent to the sin bin for tripping Philadelphia forward, Sam Gagner, putting the Flyers on the power play to no avail.
Philadelphia then took two penalties about two and half minutes apart, as Ryan White served a charging minor at 13:28 and Brandon Manning was sent to the box for delay of game at 16:02 of the second period. 19 seconds into Manning’s penalty the Capitals scored on the power play on a shot from the point by John Carlson. Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie picked up assists on what became the game winning goal by Carlson.
By the end of the 2nd period, Washington was outshooting Philadelphia 22-15, limiting the Flyers to 4 shots on goal in the period.
The pace of the game picked up for the third period in both intensity and undisciplined play.
After killing a too many men on the ice bench minor, served by Ryan White at 2:30 of the 3rd period, the Philadelphia Flyers were shorthanded once again after Sam Gagner took a 4-minute double minor for high sticking Brooks Orpik 5:28 into the final period. This led to a lenthgy penalty kill, which Steve Mason and the Flyers were able to kill off unharmed.
A little under eight minutes later, Wayne Simmonds and Tom Wilson dropped the gloves and squared off after Wilson boarded Flyers defenseman, Andrew MacDonald. Both Simmonds and Wilson picked up 5-minute major penalties for fighting. About a minute later, Shayne Gostisbehere and Andre Burakovsky had a little shoving match that resulted from an interference call on Gostisbehere and a slashing minor on Burakovsky.
At 16:36 of the third period, Jay Beagle sealed the deal for Washington with a shot that beat Mason and reached the back of the twine with help from Marcus Johansson. Trailing by two goals late in the third, the Flyers pulled Mason for an extra attacker, but it was to no avail. Holtby stood tall in goal and the Capitals pulled off the 2-0 shutout with an additional scrum after the sounding of the horn to end the game.
Jakub Voracek picked up a roughing minor, White received a 10-minute misconduct, while Beagle and Karl Alzner each received roughing minors at 20:00 of the third period.
The Capitals outshot the Flyers 31-19 after 60 minutes of play and also led in hits (29-27) and blocked shots (23-21). Philadelphia had a 31-26 advantage on the faceoff dot and led in giveaways 9-5. Washington was 1/6 on the night on the power play, while the Flyers 0/4.
Washington came into Thursday night as this season’s President’s Trophy winners with the best record in the NHL. This series is the 5th Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup between these two teams and their first matchup since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal on April 22, 2008. This year also marks the 38th playoff appearance in 48 seasons for Philadelphia and the 26th Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance for Washington in 41 seasons.
Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals split the regular season series with Claude Giroux and the Flyers this season, with 8 of their last 12 meetings having been decided by one goal (until Thursday night). Holtby went into the game with a 48-9-7 record on the regular season and a 2.20 GAA and .922 SV% in 66 games played.
The series shifts to Game 2 on Saturday night in Washington with the home team (the Capitals) in command of a 1-0 series lead at 7:00 PM EST on CNBC. The Flyers might be without the services of Sean Couturier, who suffered a shoulder injury in Game 1, while the Capitals are expected to be in full force on home ice at the Verizon Center.