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Flyers' power play fails against Capitals

Philadelphia's missed 5-on-3 chance in Game 6 highlights struggle throughout first-round series

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers had the perfect situation in the second period of Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday. 

Nicklas Backstrom, one of the Capitals' top penalty killers, was in the penalty box for four minutes because of a high-sticking double-minor. Five seconds later, he was joined by teammate Matt Niskanen, giving the Flyers a two-minute, 5-on-3 advantage. 

The Flyers sent out their top power-play unit, which featured regular-season leading scorer Claude Giroux, forwards Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, who each set NHL-highs for goals, and rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.

The Capitals were looking to survive. A win would push them through to the second round; a loss would force Game 7 in Washington after they led the series 3-0. 

"The 5-on-3 today, if we don't get through that, this building probably explodes," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.

Wells Fargo Center's foundation remained undamaged, and the Capitals won 1-0 to clinch the series in six games and advance to the second round against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Flyers had three shots on goal during the 5-on-3. Gostisbehere had a slap shot from the right side that Holtby came out to stop with his belly. Then Giroux got off a hard shot from the left circle that Holtby stopped, and then he scrambled to deny Simmonds on the rebound in front.

"We got some good chances," Giroux said. "Gostisbehere had a one-timer there that I thought was going in. He's pretty dangerous from there. We did the plays that we wanted to play."

However, those plays are what the Capitals expected. 

"A lot teams like to switch up what they do," Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. "We knew that they like to run two very specific plays and we had what we thought was a way to stop it and it worked pretty good. So [killing] a 5-on-3 isn't a whole lot of fun. But sometimes it has to be done."

The Flyers went 0-for-3 on the power play in Game 6 and 1-for-24 in the series. 

As bad as the power-play failure was, it was the timing of the blackouts that was worse.

They had three power plays in the first period of Game 1, a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:07 in Game 2 and a power play 32 seconds after Voracek scored later in the game that cut the Capitals' lead to 2-1. 

And then came their 5-on-3 in Game 6. 

The Flyers were quick to credit the Capitals' high-pressure penalty kill for taking away the things they did well, but they also believe the fault lied with the players not making necessary adjustments. 

"We had to step up and we didn't," Voracek said. "Learn from it and get better next year."

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