Dmitry Orlov could have been the hero in the Caps matinee game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Instead, he and the Capitals found a new way to lose a two-goal lead. This time, though, they couldn’t manage to muscle out a win, falling to the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in overtime. Vincent Lecavalier’s goal 2:45 into the extra session sealed the Flyers’ comeback and halted the Capitals winning streak at four.
Heading into the third period with a two-goal lead for the third time in three games, the Caps seemed poised to close out their fifth win in a row. A win also would have allowed them to leapfrog the Flyers in the standings and take sole control of the eighth and final playoff spot. Instead, the Caps, and more specifically Orlov, played into the Flyers hands with undisciplined mistakes that eventually cost them the game.
“They [The Philadelphia Flyers] are going to try to intimidate you, and we just need to play our game,” Caps forward Eric Fehr said after the game. “That is not the style we play. We don’t try to intimidate teams; we try to out skill teams, out work teams and score goals that way. We just have to stick to our game plan and not get baited into theirs.”
At 9:33 of the third period, Orlov, who had already scored twice, plastered Brayden Schenn into the glass with an undisciplined, retaliatory hit. Schenn left the ice dazed, drawing a five-minute boarding major. Jakub Voracek scored once on the ensuing power play, cutting the Caps lead in half with nearly half a period left to play and another 2:35 left on the major penalty.
“You expect the other team to have a push, but let’s not give them that push,” a highly agitated Adam Oates said after the game. “To me, they’ve got nothing going on. We start the period short. Fine. We get into a rhythm and a five-minute board is obviously not what we want. We give them life, give their good players life and tire ourselves. They score one on it and figure out how to get one at the end.”
The Flyers figured out how to get one at the end with Steve Mason pulled with 1:05 left in regulation. Claude Giroux redirected Voracek’s shot past Holtby for his second goal of the game to force overtime.
After the game, Joel Ward, who had a beautiful, behind-the-back assist in the second period, talked about what the Capitals need to do in the future to protect leads and secure wins.
“More urgency. Even though we are up, we still have to play desperate a little bit,” Ward said. “Just wanting to really finish them off I think. We kind of let them [Philadelphia] off the hook a little bit. We have done that the last couple of games, which is frustrating. I think at times we may sit back a little bit, and you just can’t do that in this league, especially with guys like that on the opposition.”
As they remain outside of the playoff picture, log-jammed in the back half of the Eastern Conference, the Caps can ill afford to lose urgency and let points slip away, especially to division rivals.
Oates noted that it is especially frustrating to lose in the manner that the Capitals did on Sunday because, quite simply, they know better.
“We talk about it. We talk about it before the game, between every single period,” he said of preparing for the Flyers antagonistic style. “Obviously there are scrums all the time. We know this team. It’s not new. The guy’s got to do the job. You’ve got to suck it up when it’s your turn. They hit hard too. They’re big boys too. They’ve got to push; they’re losing. They’ve got to push. We’ve got to be able to handle that.”
After a dogged cycling effort by the Caps, Troy Brouwer found Dmitry Orlov from behind the Flyers’ net. The young Washington defenseman’s one-time shot from the left circle beat Steve Mason at 6:06 of the first period.
Just 5:16 later, Claude Giroux answered for the Flyers on the power play, though the official didn’t make the goal call until after the following whistle as the puck went quickly in and out of the net.
Marcus Johansson put the Capitals ahead with his eighth goal of the season at 13:56 of the first period.
Nicklas Backstrom nearly scored to put the Caps up by two when his shot trickled through Mason’s legs and along the goal line before being swept away by Philadelphia defenseman Mark Streit.
Braden Holtby had a number of clutch saves the second period, including a sprawling toe save on Wayne Simmonds and another stop on Philadelphia Captain Giroux, but a careless play by Alexander Ovechkin led to a short-handed goal for Flyers forward Adam Hall, which knotted the game at two 12:50 into the second period.
Less than a minute later, though, Philadelphia defenseman Andrej Meszaros broke his stick while attempting a shot, which led to a 3-on-2 rush for the Caps. Joel Ward picked up Mike Green’s rebound in front of Mason and dished a backhand, behind-the-back pass to Jay Beagle who knocked it into an empty cage.
Orlov doubled the Caps lead with his second goal of the game, a blast from the center point that beat a screened Mason at 16:23 of the second period.
With nearly half the third period gone, Orlov retaliated against Brayden Schenn for a hard hit along the boards, garnering a five-minute boarding major. Voracek scored on the resulting power play before assisting on Giroux’s tying goal with 1:05 left in regulation. Vincent Lecavalier completed the Flyers comeback with his 14th goal of the season.