Flyers allow five unanswered, fail to capitalize over Washington

The Flyers failed yet again to put more space between them and the team chasing them in the division.
The Flyers failed yet again to put more space between them and the team chasing them in the division. / Patrick Smith/GettyImages
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The Flyers could’ve given themselves an eight-point cushion over the Capitals. Instead, they let that drop to four points after a collapse of the final two periods on Friday. Their only saving grace is that the Devils didn’t get their deficit to three points, their failure to capitalize on the Flyers' inability to beat division foes.

This is the fifth straight loss for Philadelphia to a team within their division. Their last win came against the Devils on Dec. 19. Points against teams in your division are some of the most important ones you can get. They call those four-point swing games for a reason. The Capitals earned themselves the two points, not allowing the Flyers to add two more to their total.

The Flyers still hold their destiny as the team that is being chased. However, there are teams behind them with games in hand. And they will have some tough tests this month and next. They cannot afford to drop important games like this.

It didn’t start badly. Philadelphia gained the early 2-0 lead after the first period. Bobby Brink scored in his second consecutive game since returning from the AHL. It was a rather easy goal for him as Owen Tippett and Morgan Frost did the work. As the puck was chipped out, Tippett raced to it. That created a 2-on-1 with Frost. Charlie Lindgren robbed Frost on the initial shot, but it gave a wide-open net for Brink to pop in the rebound.

The Flyers would add a rare power-play goal in the final minutes of the first period. It was Tippett with a quick-release shot from the left faceoff dot. It was a good keep-in at the line by Egor Zamula to make the play happen. Zamula’s pass allowed Tippett to skate into the shot and wire it past Lindgren.

All the good the Flyers accomplished was quickly erased in the final two periods. After an 11-shot first period, Philadelphia had 12 combined in the second and third. Washington had just five in the first, and finished with 16 over those same two periods. 

Capitals Score Five Unanswered

Alex Ovechkin was rather quiet the last time these two teams met. Not on Friday night, however. He kicked things off for the Capitals. It was a set piece off a faceoff win by Hendrix Lapierre, who is getting a chance on the Caps’ top line. The puck went to Tom Wilson, who chipped it to Ovechkin. He took care of the rest, quickly firing it past Sam Ersson.

Sonny Milano tied the game halfway through the second period. Unable to gain control in their zone, Max Pacioretty saw Milano skating in front of the net. The puck hit Sean Walker on the way as Milano tried to control it before batting the bouncing puck up and over Ersson. The latter may have gotten a piece of it before it went to the top shelf.

The third goal for the Capitals may have been the one to get Brink stapled to the bench for the final period. Alex Ovechkin was given plenty of time to assess the situation as he held the puck at the point. No player went toward him as he passed the puck to Rasmus Sandin. The shot by Sandin was stopped by Ersson. However, John Carlson was able to grab the puck and wrap it around for the goal.

There was plenty for John Tortorella to be unhappy about and he let the team know it after that goal. Ersson was caught too far over on the right post, unable to stretch across to stop Carlson. He wasn’t the one at fault, though. Brink watched Carlson come around the net. Ryan Poehling was late recognizing the play as well as he was caught up with Anthony Mantha. Ovechkin being given that much time in the first place was also not great. It was just all-around bad defensive awareness. 

The Flyers wouldn’t recover as Mantha added to the Capitals lead with a power play goal about six minutes into the third. Passes from behind the goal line can yield good results as Strome found out. His pass set up Mantha, who was all alone in tight.

Strome would finish this game with his third point of the night in the final five minutes. Pacioretty’s shot was hard off the pad of Ersson. The puck went right to Strome, who controlled the puck and wristed it over the glove of the diving Ersson. 

It was an all-time collapse by the Flyers. That cannot happen, especially at this time of year. Philadelphia won’t have time to sulk as they’re right back at it against the Senators. Ottawa has won both matchups thus far, scoring five goals in each game.