In a battle of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in a shootout finish.
Alexander Semin put the puck in the back of the net for the Caps' third goal in the shootout. Flyers' goaltender Brian Boucher failed to make a save, or even a good attempt at stopping Washington's extra shooters.
It should not have even headed to overtime and a shootout though. The Capitals jumped out early to a 3-0 lead just two minutes into the second period. The Flyers then proceeded to pull starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. After that, the Flyers woke up.
The Flyers, along with the fans, got back into the contest with about 12 minutes left in the second period. For about eight to 10 minutes, it was shot after shot on goal. For the most part, Capitals goaltender Michael Neuvirth was up to the task.
For the Flyers, it was a tale of two halves. The first 30 minutes, the Flyers seemed slow and not into the game. Bobrovsky especially did not look comfortable in the playoff atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center.
Once Brian Boucher came into the game, the Flyers seemed inspired to play better.
Philadelphia finally broke through halfway through the second period when Kris Versteeg centered a puck that went off a Washington defender into the net. The tides were turning. Momentum had shifted, both on the ice and in the stands.
The Flyers continued their onslaught into the third period. They scored their four goals in the last 30 minutes of the game.
They did not finish out the game though, as their defense broke down with less than four minutes to go in the game. Marcus Johansson scored on a one-timer that tied the game at 4-4.
All the momentum that Philly had built up over the last two periods seem to be all for naught.
In overtime, the Flyers were out shot 4-1. Washington then made the shootout look easy by scoring three straight times to get the two points.
The Flyers got a well-deserved one point tonight, after they were down 3-0. They have to look at the big picture as well. The next 10 days will decide how good the Flyers really are as they face Boston and Pittsburgh twice.
With Washington and Philadelphia both comfortably in as the No. 1 and 2 seeds in the East, this may be a matchup of the Eastern Conference Finals. That begs the question...Can the Flyers beat the Caps in a seven game series?
In a game where the Capitals were without Alex Ovechkin and their starting goaltender (Semyon Varlamov), Washington still beat Philly and outplayed them for close to half the contest.
If Philadelphia is going to contend for a Stanley Cup, they need to get their goaltender situation under control. Bobrovsky has had the better last couple of weeks statistically, but looked horrific in net tonight in a big spotlight.
Boucher came in and played well. His experience in the playoffs probably gives him the edge to get the call come game time. Regardless, one of the two net minders has to step up for the Flyers.
The Flyers can keep up with the Capitals offensively and will be better defensively with the return of a healthy Chris Pronger.
A series between the two teams will come down to the goalies and special teams. The Flyers were once again held scoreless in six minutes of power play time.
Tonight was a great game and one of the best of the season. I can only imagine what a seven game series between these teams will hold.