Washington Capitals (40-20-5) vs Philadelphia Flyers (38-20-7)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||23-13-5||3.12 / .897 / 0|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Brian Elliott||15-7-4||2.90 / .899 / 2|
The Washington Capitals have returned to D.C. to face the red-hot Philadelphia Flyers for the first game of yet another back-to-back. Washington kicked off the month of March with their first road win since February 13th which came against the Avalanche. The last time the Caps faced the Flyers, back on February 8th, Washington fell by a score of 7-2 on home ice.
The Washington Capitals ended a four-road-game losing streak against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night by a score of 4-3. Finally, February was over and done with; a month that was not kind to the Capitals, who ranked 29th of 31 teams in goal-scoring. Jonas Siegenthaler was inserted back into the lineup and was paired with Nick Jensen on the third defensive pair. Dmitry Orlov was paired with Michal Kempny, but was playing on the right, his off-hand side. Radko Gudas and Brendan Leipsic were the healthy scratches. Just three minutes in, Ryan Donato put the Wild on the board with his 14th goal of the season. The match was just about five and half minutes old when the Capitals received the first power play of the game as Greg Pateryn went off for tripping. Just 42 seconds into the man-advantage, goaltender Alex Stalock was penalized for high-sticking, and therefore Washington was gifted a two-man advantage for 1:14. Alex Ovechkin tallied his 44th goal of the season on the power play to tie the game at one apiece. Washington remained on the man-advantage but was unable to take the lead. Less than three minutes after Ovechkin’s goal, Richard Panik did give the Caps their first lead with his 8th goal of the season. 31 seconds after that, Alex Ovechkin tallied his 2nd of the game, and 45th of the season to tie Auston Matthews for 2nd place in the Rocket Richard Trophy race. With the two goals, the game marked Ovechkins’ 144th multi-goal game of his career, and now sits in 5th place, passing Phil Esposito on the all-time list. On the goal, Evgeny Kuznetsov was awarded the primary assist and one of the newest members of the squad Ilya Kovalchuk tallied the secondary assist to mark his first point as a Washington Capital.
Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, Nicklas Backstrom was called for slashing, and with Minnesota on the power play, Kevin Fiala pulled the Wild within one. Fiala’s 20th goal of the season was his third goal in three games, and his fifth in six appearances. Prior to the expiration of the first, Ilya Kovalchuk became involved in front of the net, as did Brenden Dillon with Ryan Hartman. Hartman and Dillon both received matching five-minute majors for fighting, and Hartman an additional two minutes for slashing.
Kovalchuk was handed a four-minute double minor for roughing, which was served by Alex Ovechkin. To start the second, Minnesota did not convert on the spill-over of the late first-period power play. The second period did not see five goals, but there was no lack of excitement, scrappiness, and hard hits. Garnet Hathaway and Richard Panik felt the need to assert themselves as well with Ryan Suter and Jordan Greenway, and all four players received two-minute minor penalties for roughing. John Carlson was then called for tripping, and Minnesota would be given another opportunity to tie it, but the Capitals would hold them off. The score remained 3-2 heading into the final frame, but it would be imperative for the Capitals defense and Braden Holtby, who had been unbelievable tonight, to fend off the Wild. With less than 10 minutes remaining, Michal Kempny was called for interference, and top Caps’ penalty-killer Carl Hagelin almost made it 5-2. Zach Parise eventually jammed the puck past Holtby to bring Minnesota within one on their fourth power play of the evening. Parise’s 23rd goal of the season came at the 12:53 mark of the third. Minnesota was outshooting the Capitals, and dominated in faceoffs, too. Minnesota head coach Dean Evason elected to pull goaltender Alex Stalock for the extra skater with just under 90 seconds remaining in hopes of tying the game. With 19.7 seconds left, the Wild would utilize their timeout, but failed to construct a set-play to tie the game. Braden Holtby made 37 saves on 40 Minnesota shots to end his night with a .925 save percentage. Holtby is expected to start against the Flyers on Wednesday.
The Philadelphia Flyers, on the other hand, are riding a six-game win streak, with their most recent victory coming over the New York Rangers in a wild 5-3 defeat on Sunday. Win the win, the Flyers sit 2nd in the Metro, with a three-point lead over the Penguins. Former Cap Matt Niskanen got Philadelphia on the board first just 1:52 seconds into the game on the power play. Sean Couturier scored his 21st of the season, also on the Flyers power play just beyond the 11-minute mark, and before the first period was over Michael Raffl would make is 3-0 for Philadelphia. Raffl’s 7th of the season was scored shorthanded with former Ranger Kevin Hayes in the penalty box for tripping. All but one goal in this matchup was scored by special teams, and that singular even-strength goal came from Derek Grant at the 1:23 mark of the middle frame. Grant was recently acquired from the Anaheim Ducks prior to the trade deadline. Mika Zibanejad finally got the Rangers on the board, with the man-advantage, spoiling Carter Hart’s shutout bid. Exactly three minutes later, Travis Konecny scored his 23rd of the season, again on the Philadelphia power play, to make re-establish their four-goal lead. Konecny leads his team with 28 points. He is tied with Kevin Hayes for most goals (22). The third period would see back-to-back Rangers power-play goals from Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad (2nd of the game) to bring New York within two. Rangers head coach David Quinn would pull Henrik Lundqvist with just under three minutes remaining in hopes of tying it up. The Flyers ended up 3-for-5, and the Rangers, 3-for-6 on the power play and marked their 8th win in 10 games. Carter Hart ended his afternoon with 23 saves on 26 shots to tally his 22nd win of the season. Hart is much stronger at home than he is on the road, as the young net-minder is just 4-10-1 on the road this season (HockeyReference). Brian Elliott, however, will be starting for the Flyers. Elliott has six wins in his last 10 starts.
The Philadelphia Flyers are without Samuel Morin (DL, knee) and Nolan Patrick (IR-NR, head). Oskar Lindblom continues to undergo treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma. Lindblom made a surprise trip to Winnipeg to visit his teammates last week as they took on the Jets. Philadelphia ultimately won that game, 4-2.
Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.
HockeyReference. (2020). Carter Hart Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/h/hartca01.html.
NHL.com. (2020). Ilya Kovalchuk Stats and News. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/player/ilya-kovalchuk-8469454.
TheScore. (2020). Philadelphia Flyers News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/9.