After shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday night at the Verizon Center, the Washington Capitals had little time to make their way to Philadelphia and it showed. The Capitals (7-11-1) were visibly tired and clearly not the same team as the previous night, as they fell 4-1 to an aggressive Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers (10-11-1) got the scoring going early, as Claude Giroux scored 23 seconds into the 1st period. Then, not even 3 minutes later, Wayne Simmonds scored on a power play to extend the Flyers lead 2-0.
Unfortunately for the Capitals, they weren’t able to pick themselves back up after the slow start.
The Flyers put two more goals on the board, with returning fixture Simone Gagne scoring on a power play in the 2nd period, then Maxime Talbot scoring towards the end of the period to extend the lead to 4-0.
Gagne played 10 seasons with the Flyers before going to Tampa Bay for the 2010-11 season, then to Los Angeles Kings for the 2011-12 season. He was required by the Flyers on Tuesday, on a red-eye flight from Los Angeles that day and back in a Flyers uniform on Wednesday.
Joel Ward scored late in the third to finally get the Capitals on the board, but it was too little too late.
“It’s kind of hard to bounce back after 2-0 after 3 or 4 minutes start in the game,” Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin said. “The blame is on us. We shouldn’t start a game like that.” Capitals’ coach Adam Oates had similar sentiment. “We had a terrible start. First shift and down too quick, and playing against a team that needs it as bad as us and we had no answer for them.”
Capitals’ goalie Braden Holtby was put to the test, following the previous night’s shutout. “Fourth goal was mine to have, but I have to put it behind me and move forward,” Holtby said. Then Philipp Grubauer came in to relieve Holtby, making his NHL debut after being recalled from Hershey. Grubauer had an impressive showing, stopping all 14 shots he faced in his 25:05 minutes of play time.
“He looked confident. It looks like a lot of net sometimes, but he takes it away quick. There is good promise there,” Capitals’ player Karl Alzner said. As for the team, Alzner added that they are still not where they want to be completely, but are “getting back there.”
Oates added that while the team did look tired, citing the “product of the league because of the lockout”, he said that the players just did not play good enough. “We didn’t have enough to fight back…As a man, no one had a jump.”
The Capitals will get a day of rest today, but then it’s back to work at practice on Friday, followed by an away game Saturday verse the Winnipeg Jets at 3PM.