It seems that the Capitals are hitting their stride.
After beating the Bruins on Friday by a score of 5-3, the Caps defeated the white-hot Flyers Sunday, 3-2, to improve to 7-1 at the Verizon Center and claim sole possession of first in the Eastern Conference.
For the most part, the play was pretty even through 56 minutes. Then, Chris Pronger took a four-minute high-sticking penalty, which the Flyers had almost killed off until Sean O’Donnell took a brutal boarding penalty with 19 seconds remaining in regulation.
Asking any penalty killing unit to keep the Caps off the board for five-plus minutes is really pushing it, and 29 seconds into overtime Mike Green made the Flyers pay. While the Capitals never really dominated, they played consistent hockey for three periods, and generally speaking when a team as talented as the Caps does that, good things will happen.
Odds and Ends:
Not a bad showing by Braden Holtby in his first full NHL game. He wasn’t tested heavily throughout the night, but the lateral move he made to get in position to stop Mike Richards’ shot from close-in during the third was fantastic. Overall the Caps did a nice job keeping the Flyers away from the net.
Sergei Bobrovsky had a mixed night. He made two great scrambling saves on Eric Fehr and Brooks Laich to keep the Caps at bay in the second. The goal he allowed on Eric Fehr’s wrister from along the boards? Not so good.
One thing Ted Leonsis will never admit – the sellout streak is over.
Another thing the Caps will never admit – Alex Ovechkin hasn’t looked right since he hobbled to the bench against Calgary on the latest road trip. If he’s hurt we’ll be the last to know. Alright, so he’s fifth in the league in scoring, but he just looks off.
Luckily Alex Semin has been playing consistently great hockey after scoring his ninth goal of the season to tie the game at 2-2 in the second. Contract years can do that.
Mike Knuble is struggling with just five points through 14 games after tonight. However, keep in mind that he only had three goals and eight points through the same amount of games last year before finishing with 29 goals and 53 points. Concerned? A little. Panicked? Hardly.
Another night, another 30-plus minutes for Green, the true lynchpin of the Bruce Boudreau’s defense. He logged a staggering 7:33 of power play ice team and tied for the team lead with Jeff Schultz at 2:30 on the penalty kill.
The Caps’ power play racked up another two goals and is now up to tenth in the league after a slow start to the season. Nobody was actually worried about that unit, right?
The penalty kill remains strong after killing both Flyers power plays tonight and is currently ranked seventh in the league.
With each successive win, last season’s playoff disappointment becomes that much smaller in the rear view mirror, and while this season’s playoffs are still a long way away it’s a virtual lock that the Capitals will be a there and a good bet to be a top seed given how strong they look early on.