Playing for the sixth time in nine nights, the Philadelphia Flyers lost to the Washington Capitals 3-1 at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday evening. The game marked the first time Flyers fans have been able to attend a home game since the NHL's COVID-19 pause implemented last March. The Flyers suffered their first set of back-to-back regulation losses since early January 2020.
The Flyers controlled the first period but only scored a single goal. Washington pushed back in the second period and the Flyers were forced to chase the game in the third. Philly wasn't lacking for scoring chances but the team was unable to bury them and, as in the recent games in Pittsburgh, Flyers' breakdowns proved very costly.
Joel Farabee (11th goal of the season) got the Flyers on the board first in the opening period. Goals by Alex Ovechkin (8th) and one by Dmitry Orlov (2nd) in the final 16 seconds of the middle frame put the Capitals ahead, 2-1. Nick Jensen added an insurance goal (1st) early in the third period.
Carter Hart stopped 24 of 27 shots in a losing cause. Ilya Samsonov earned the win with 36 saves on 37 shots.
Phil Myers returned from a one-game injury absence for the Flyers, while Erik Gustafsson replaced Robert Hägg in the starting lineup. With Michael Raffl unavailable due to an upper-body injury, Connor Bunnaman rejoined the lineup. For Washington, right winger Tom Wilson served the first game of a seven-game NHL suspension for a hit that injured Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo.
The Flyers needed to get the game to the second intermission tied at 1-1. Instead, after an icing, a lost faceoff and poor coverage resulted in Orlov scoring on Hart through the five-hole as the goalie moved across to cover the back-door chance.
1) The Flyers came out with an active forecheck in the offensive zone and neutral zone, pressuring the Capitals into turnovers and icing. Philly players had their feet moving, while the Caps were flat-footed. Multiple Philadelphia lines had a good first period but the notables included Oskar Lindblom (especially on the forecheck) and Shayne Gostisbehere showing a quick stick and jumping up in the rush. The first Flyers' power play looked disorganized early but generated a late wave of pressure. Washington got a very questionable power play on a Travis Konecny goaltender interference penalty at 16:00 that did not look like a penalty at all. Washington made a bit of a late push but Hart had the answers. First period shots were 14-7 Flyers (attempts 19-14 Flyers). Philadelphia also won 11 of 18 faceoffs, with Claude Giroux going 6-for-6.
2) A great example of turning defense into transitional offense: the active defensive zone sticks of Farabee and Sean Couturier resulted in Couturier springing a 2-on-1 rush. Joined by James van Riemsdyk, puck-carrier Farabee shot the puck through Samsonov's five-hole for a 1-0 lead at 11:04.
3) The second period, as is often the case in hockey, was the mirror image of the first. Now it was the Capitals pressuring and the Flyers turning pucks over, both when hurried but also when under little pressure. Hart was tested numerous times, especially by Ovechkin. Finally, at 15:11, Ovechkin buried a TJ Oshie feed from point blank range to tie the game at 1-1. Then with 15,8 seconds left in the second period, after the Flyers were called on a questionable icing,Couturier lost a draw, the coverage broke down with both Farabee and JVR on the same side, Orlov pinched in untouched to take a back-door feed from Carlson and beat Hart through the five-hole moving across to put Washington ahead, 2-1.
4) Konecny had two separate golden scoring opportunities in the second period -- one set up by Farabee, the other on a 3-on-1 -- but was unable to bury either. At the time, a goal in either situation would have given Philly a 2-0 lead.
5) The Flyers got caught up in the neutral zone as Zdeno Chara popped Farabee in the face and van Riemsdyk came over. The result was a 4-on-3 transition rush and Jensen was wide open to walk right down Broadway and beat Hart low to the far (blocker) side for a 3-1 lead at 4:15. On a mid-period Flyers power play, Samsonov made saves on Konecny and Couturier. Voracek, who had a strong game, continued to create chances but the Flyers were unable to cash in. The Flyers pressed with Hart pulled for a 6-on-5 but Samsonov was equal to each chance. Gostisbehere prevented two would-be empty netters with clutch blocks.