Elliott Struggles, Flyers Spiral Continues in Another Loss to Caps
Things just continue to go from bad to worse for the Flyers. Three times, they had the Washington Capitals on the schedule this week with a chance to bounce back from a long and tiring week on the road. Each of the first two meetings was a regulation loss that only further highlighted the group's flaws.
On Saturday night, things may just have come to a head. For the third time this week, the Flyers were no match for the Capitals for most of the night, having another furious rally fall short and losing for the fourth time in the last five games, 5-4.
From the start, turnovers continued to haunt the Flyers. It took less than five minutes for the Capitals to strike after a Flyers mistake.
Nolan Patrick turned the puck over in the neutral zone to Evgeny Kuznetsov. That allowed the Capitals to move in transition and get into the zone. Jakub Vrana put a shot from a distance on goal and Brian Elliott couldn't control the rebound. Daniel Sprong was the first one to it, putting it back behind Elliott and in to make it 1-0 Washington at 4:40.
After the Flyers failed to score on a power play midway through the period, another turnover led to a goal. This time, Claude Giroux made a drop-pass back into his own zone to no one in particular, and the Capitals scooped it up. In addition, Nicolas Aube-Kubel was late getting onto the ice, leaving the Flyers with just four skaters. The Capitals went to work and Nick Jensen put a shot to the net that left another rebound for Carl Hagelin to clean up, making it 2-0 with 6:39 remaining in the period.
Through 20 minutes, Washington also had the 9-8 lead in shots.
Early in the second, that old familiar formula for the Flyers struck again. The period started well as James van Riemsdyk scored his 12th of the season at 2:36. Just 29 seconds later, it was a two-goal game again.
Off a face-off, Nick Jensen jumped on the puck and sped past the Flyers forwards and got behind Shayne Gostisbehere. Nate Prosser couldn't close on him and Jensen fired a shot over the shoulder of Elliott to make it 3-1. That was the end of the night for Elliott, who allowed three goals on 10 shots.
Just under three minutes later, the Flyers were on the board again. A hard-working shift for Jake Voracek and Travis Sanheim ended with Patrick firing home a one-timer to cut the lead to one.
Just seconds after scoring their second goal, Ilya Samsonov made an incredible save on a rebound to keep the Capitals in front. It proved to be a turning point in the period.
The Flyers failed to score on a power play later in the period and off another turnover, were forced to take a penalty. That eventually gave Washington their first man-advantage of the game and after two failed clears, Alex Ovechkin struck to make it 4-2 Capitals with 6:50 to play in the period.
After two periods, the Flyers had a 23-16 lead in shots.
Within the first five minutes of the third, the Capitals put the game away. A long-range shot by Garnet Hathaway was deflected by Nic Dowd and leaked through Hart to make it a 5-2 game.
On a power-play, Shayne Gostisbehere scored with just under seven minutes to play to cut the lead back down to two.
In the final four minutes, the Flyers got Hart to the bench, then got the goal to close the gap to one. Voracek set up Giroux for a one-timer, giving the Flyers life with 2:57 to play.
Again, the Flyers got Hart to the bench with just under 2:30 to play, but could not score to complete the comeback.
Hart made 11 saves on 13 shots faced in relief. Samsonov stopped 28 of 32 in the win.
Both Sanheim and Voracek finished with two assists. Jensen and Hagelin each had a goal and an assist. Hathaway and John Carlson each had two assists.
The Flyers return to the ice as they hit the road for the next four games, starting on Monday night against the New York Rangers at 7 p.m.
- WSH Daniel Sprong (5) (Jakub Vrana, Evgeny Kuznetsov) 4:40
- WSH Carl Hagelin (3) (Nick Jensen, Garnet Hathaway) 13:21
- PHI James van Riemsdyk (12) (Unassisted) 2:36
- WSH Jensen (2) (Hagelin) 3:05
- PHI Nolan Patrick (3) (Jake Voracek, Travis Sanheim) 5:47
- WSH Alex Ovechkin (10) PP (Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson) 13:10
- WSH Nic Dowd (6) (Garnet Hathaway, Carlson) 4:25
- PHI Shayne Gostisbehere (5) PP (Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny) 13:07
- PHI Claude Giroux (5) (Voracek, Sanheim) 17:03
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.