Flyers win battle of East's best in shootout
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:08 AMWASHINGTON --
The last time the Philadelphia Flyers
went to a shootout, Brian Boucher backstopped them to a spot in the playoffs on the final day of the 2009-10 regular season.
The pressure wasn't quite the same Saturday night at Verizon Center, but not yielding a goal on attempts by Nicklas Backstrom
, Alex Ovechkin
and Alexander Semin
in a 5-4 victory against the Washington Capitals
is a worthy accomplishment for Boucher, who was starting for the first time in nearly a month.
"It feels nice," Boucher said. "When you don't play it is hard to feel a part of it. You don't feel like you're contributing much. When you have to chance to get a win and have a good start -- aside from the end there when it got a little hairy, I thought it was a pretty solid game. In the shootout it is man vs. man and I was able to do it, so it is nice."
The Flyers prevailed in an entertaining matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference and snapped a two-game losing streak in the process. Washington lost a second straight contest for only the second time this season. The Capitals remain atop the NHL standings with 30 points -- two more than the Flyers.
"It feels good," Danny Briere
said. "We have another one coming up with Montreal. It's one thing to beat the lower-seed teams, but we have to start showing that we belong among the best."
Added Washington coach Bruce Boudreau: "You get a point. It is not death … it is our worst week of the season and it is .500. [Two] regulation [losses] in the last 12 -- let's not sing 'Taps' on us yet. I thought we fought hard right to the end."
Boucher earned only his fifth start of the season and first since Oct. 25, but helped the Flyers survive two comebacks and a flurry of late power-play goals from the Capitals while Danny Briere
provided the lone tally in the shootout.
Eric Fehr sent the game to overtime with his fourth goal of the season in the final minute of regulation. Michal Neuvirth
went to the bench with the Capitals on a power play and Fehr replaced him as the extra attacker. Brooks Laich
set him up for a rocket from the right circle with 39 seconds left.
It was the third power-play goal of the period for the Capitals, who started the game 0-for-4 but converted the next three chances. Backstrom and Jason Chimera
registered extra-man markers 28 seconds apart earlier in the third to erase a 3-1 deficit.
"[Boucher] competed really well I thought," Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette said. "He did a terrific job until the third when they got on the power play. That's a dangerous group on the power play. Early on we gave up some chances and opportunities and he answered the bell."
put the Flyers in front 4-3 with 6:07 left in the third period after they had squandered a two-goal advantage. James van Riemsdyk
sent a backhanded pass to Nodl from behind the goal and his whirling backhanded shot beat Neuvirth between his legs.
Philadelphia's power play was 1-for-15 in the past three games and the Flyers couldn't convert on their first four chances in this contest -- including 60 seconds of 5-on-3 time -- but the Capitals kept giving them chances to break out of their funk and eventually they did.
's shot from the top of the offensive zone was heading wide left, but it hit Claude Giroux
and redirected into the net at 13:11 of the second period, creating a 1-1 tie. It was Giroux's team-leading 11th goal of the season.
The Flyers had a sixth man-advantage opportunity before the end of the middle period. They didn't officially convert, but Scott Hartnell
sent a no-look pass across the top of the crease to Mike Richards for an easy tap-in four seconds after Fehr left the penalty box at 17:47, giving them a 2-1 lead.
Jeff Carter gave the Flyers a two-goal lead at 9:40 of the third. He skated past Semin and around defenseman Mike Green
moving left-to-right before snapping a shot past Neuvirth inside the left post.
Rookie center Marcus Johansson
had the lone goal of the first period. After the Capitals opened the game by putting three shots off either a post or the crossbar, Johansson didn't miss when Chimera set him up inside the hash marks with a short backhand pass.
It was Johansson's second goal of the season. He missed nine games because of a pair of injuries and was a healthy scratch once -- and he's also seen action at center on each of Washington's top three lines in the past three games.
"It feels better and better," said Johansson, who Boudreau felt played his best game of the season. "Today I felt better than the start and it's just unlucky that we didn't get two points. I think we struggled hard and fought for it."
Missed chances in the opening 30 minutes were a big reason the Capitals were not able to open a larger advantage. One of those three shots off the iron was an Ovechkin breakaway, and he had a second one in the middle period but fumbled the puck when he shifted to his backhand and failed to put a decent shot on Boucher.
"I thought all game we had good chances," Boudreau said. "I was worried after the first period when it was only 1-0 because we didn't get rewarded for having three 2-on-1s, two breakaways -- those are the kind of times that you put teams away and when you let them hang around something usually happens."