Washington lost the game 6-5 in overtime. But after squandering a third period lead on an "own goal", having the game-winner batted in off a rebound, and being on the wrong end of nine minor penalties, to a man, the Caps must feel like they let one get away.
"You take [nine minor penalties] in a game, you're not going to win that game, and we took six in one period," Coach Bruce Boudreau said in the post-game press conference. "That's how four goals get scored against you. It's something that's unacceptable."
The teams played scoreless hockey through one period, and it looked like it would be a nail-biter in the sold out, orange-bathed Wachovia Center. It turned out to be a donnybrook, as 11 goals would fall in the resultant two-plus periods, with the game-winner potted by none other than thorn-in-the-side Danny Briere with 1:08 remaining in overtime.
The Caps had the opportunity to avoid the extra play, but could not take advantage. Brendan Morrison had a puck bounce off his skate into the Flyers net to take a 5-4 lead with 10:28 left in the third period. But six minutes later, Boyd Gordon was whistled for holding.
The Flyers power play unit, which had scored twice already, took the ice. Scott Hartnell, locks flowing, fired on net, and Jose Theodore, who replaced a shaky Semyon Varlamov in the second period, made the save. But the rebound skipped straight to defenseman Tom Poti. Poti was in position but just couldn't play the puck with his stick. It bounced off Poti, back into Theodore, and then into the net for the equalizer.
"Tonight we were our worst enemy," Morrison said. "We came back and took the lead in the third, and that's a game we should have sealed down and win. Tonight it was our penalties. We just couldn't stay out of the box. We have to learn this lesson quickly if we want to be a good team, not a great team."
The nine minor penalties were mostly crimes of laziness, including three holding, two hooking, and two interference calls.
A bigger, more long-term concern, was the play of Varlamov. Heralded as the goalie of the future, last night showed he still has a way to go to prove his mettle. He allowed four goals on 25 shots in just under 34 minutes, including three to Flyers captain Mike Richards.
"Varlamov has to be more mentally tough to play," Boudreau said. "One thing that's reared its ugly head right now is they score in bunches on him. I think he gets down on himself, and we have to get him out of that. I thought there were some soft goals."
The Alexes, Ovechkin and Semin, took care of the first four goals, each netting a pair.
But on this night, as will probably be the situation all season, scoring goals wasn't the problem. Preventing them, and the bad situations in which they were scored, was.