The Washington Capitals recorded their second victory of the shortened 2013 season with a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Verizon Center. After a rough start to the year, Washington needed a solid victory against an Eastern Conference rival.
The Capitals found themselves once again playing from behind when Bruno Gervais lit the lamp for the Flyers in the second period. Washington responded with three straight goals by Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer and Wojtek Wolski.
Washington cut back on the mistakes that have plagued the team so far. After allowing eight power-play opportunities against Toronto on Thursday, the Caps gave Philadelphia just three chances on the man advantage.
The win should give Washington confidence heading into its Super Bowl Sunday tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Any victory is a good one, especially when your team is slumping and negativity seems to be following everywhere. Friday's game against Philadelphia proved that this team can be successful moving forward. Below are things, both positive and negative, that can be taken away from the victory over Philadelphia.
Braden Holtby Is Capable of Returning to Top Form
After two bad starts, the Capitals' young netminder was benched for five straight games. Holtby, who impressed everyone with his performance in last year's playoffs, allowed 10 goals in his first two starts of 2013. He was, however, the victim of poor defense and untimely mistakes in those games.
Holtby showed his talent against the Flyers, turning away 29 of Philadelphia's 31 shots en route to his first victory of the year. His performance makes him deserving of starting Sunday's game against Pittsburgh.
If Holtby can settle in and become the regular goalie in Washington, success should follow for the team.
Nicklas Backstrom Needs to Play Well for the Caps to Win
Capitals fans have been waiting for the Swedish playmaker to finally get going in 2013. Through the first seven games, Backstrom looked rusty and had registered just four assists and no goals. He also was on the ice when several goals were scored against the Caps, posting a minus-two rating.
Things changed on Friday, as Backstrom showed that he should be considered one of the top stars in the game. The center played by far his best game of the year, taking advantage of a turnover and scoring a pretty breakaway goal. He also assisted on Brouwer's third-period goal.
Backstrom finished the game plus-two and also fired five shots on goal, earning him the first star of the game. Washington needs the playmaker to pick up his game and return to the dominant form of a few years ago.
The Power Play Is Still a Problem
New head coach Adam Oates brought his reputation of a great offensive-minded coach, especially on the power play, to D.C. this season. So far, the Caps' production has been nothing short of lackluster. Entering the game with the Flyers, Washington ranked 25th in goals scored and 18th in power-play percentage.
On Friday night, the Capitals were shut out on all five of their opportunities on the man advantage, including a five-on-three to start the third period.
Washington struggled to set anything up and had difficulties even entering the Flyers' zone. Nothing kills the momentum of a power play like an offsides call when trying to get the puck over the blue line. That's exactly what Washington struggled with against Philadelphia.
The Capitals need to start taking advantage of the mistakes made by opponents. Power-play goals can equalize a game and make up for struggles in any other areas. Washington needs to be more focused and work on scoring with the man advantage.
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