Monday, April 1, 2013

Capitals defeat Flyers by a score of 21 to -23; inch closer to playoffs

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

The Washington Capitals continued their surge to the playoffs last night with a lopsided 21 to -23 Corsi victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center.  The victory capped a dominant weekend for the Caps which saw them crush the Sabres 143 to -143 on Saturday night in Buffalo, a game in which the Capitals relentlessly and indiscriminately fired pucks toward Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.

"It's just huge to get these wins heading down the stretch," said defenseman Jeff Schulz who led the team with +12 Corsis against the Flyers.  "Oatesy has been telling us all season to just get that puck on our sticks and let it rip regardless of the score, game situation, or whether it's going to get blocked."

Caps' center Nicklas Backstrom celebrates his second period wrist shot that went wide.
The Caps opened the Corsi-ing with a shot on goal from Troy Brouwer  The Flyers answered quickly when defenseman Kimmo Timmonen was able to get his shot blocked by Caps' rookie Steve Oleksy, who gave an emotional apology to his teammates after the first period for letting Timmonen get a shot blocked.  Veterans Brooks Laich and Nick Backstrom covered for Oleksy's mistake, with Laich getting a shot blocked and Backstrom following up with a quick shot of his own and then a tip-shot that unfortunately eluded goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and went into the net.

"That was just a bad break for us with the puck going in the Flyers' net," Backstrom said after the game.  "We were really tilting the ice that shift and if Hillen had just missed the net with his shot I felt there was a great chance we could have dug the rebound out of the corner.  We'll take the one in the net, but a few more biscuits airmailed into the glass would have been ideal."

The Caps' shooting onslaught continued throughout much of the first period, and the Caps got a huge break when an Alex Ovechkin wrister rang off the pipe.  After the game, Coach Adam Oates said that he's been working with Ovechkin on hitting the post rather than the back of the net because it still counts as a Corsi point and it's a lot easier to get the rebound.  "Plus it just sounds cool," Oates added.

Oates said he was pleased with his team's effort in the opening period with the exception of Ovechkin and Brouwer combining for four attempted shots on a 2-minute 5-on-3 power play.  "I thought the boys tired themselves out firing those pucks at the net on the power play.  I tell them over and over again, 'Look boys. You don't get any Corsis for shots while you have the power play.  Save your energy for 5-on-5 when it really matters.'  But they don't listen and they keep trying to score on the power play."

The Caps kept pressing in the second period.  After John Carlson missed the net from 65 feet, Jack Hillen put on a one-man Corsi-Show, firing one puck wide from 67 feet and then getting another wrist shot blocked.  Steve Oleksy, atoning for his first-period mistake, had his shot blocked and Jason Chimera got in the act with an actual shot on goal.  All told, the Caps racked up 5 straight Corsis in only 42 seconds.

Caps forward Mathieu Perreault attempts to block a pass. The Flyers are expected to protest the scorer's ruling that this was a blocked pass, not a blocked shot.
The Caps continued dominating play well into the third period until Flyers forward Jakub Voracek took a 4-minute penalty.  The long man-advantage sucked the life out of the Capitals.  "It's tough when you know that nothing you do for the next four minutes is going to matter," said power-play specialist Mike Green.  "Once we saw Marcus and Alex each snipe Bryzgalov, we knew we were going to be tired and would have to dig deep once the power-plays expired."

"It really felt like the next Corsi would win the game," said Laich.

As they have so often this year, the Caps held on to their Corsi lead.  Unsung hero Matt Hendricks got their final Corsi point with a 63 foot shot that went wide with 3:30 remaining in the third.  "Matty's been doing that all year for us," said defenseman Karl Alzner.  Hendricks' shot gave the Caps plenty of breathing room to withstand a late push by the Flyers who got the final 9 Corsis of the game.

"We took our foot off the gas a little bit, but luckily we had built up an insurmountable lead," Alzner said.

Ruslan Fedotenko scored in the overtime for the Flyers, but because it was played at 4-on-4, it didn't have any impact on the outcome.

Never happened.