Ugh. Despite coming back from a 3-0 second period deficit to lead the Capitals 4-3 late in the third, the Flyers were downed in the shootout Tuesday night in South Philly. It was exactly the kind of game we hate to see end in the NHL's high-stakes trick shot competition—one team got out to an early lead, and the other wrested control of the tempo and outworked them to come back in dramatic fashion, then give up a late goal that would send the game into overtime. Would have been great to see them play until someone ended it, or maybe even just a tie.
Instead, it was a 5-4 loss in the shootout after a scoreless OT, but the Flyers actually looked very good for nearly the whole game and earned a point for the seventh straight outing—every one since the travesty in Manhattan. Unfortunately, Sergei Bobrovsky came up very small in a huge opportunity to distinguish himself with the playoffs nearing, letting up three goals that likely all should have been saved (at least two, anyway). He was bailed out by his teammates, including Brian Boucher, but Boosh eventually faltered too, and goaltending cost the Flyers' skaters a win in one of their better efforts of the season.
There were some very interesting storylines in this one, including a brilliant recovery from Andreas Nodl, a warrior night from Claude Giroux, forwards attacking the net, defense swarming until the end, and perhaps more questions than we thought in goal (and we knew there were questions). Full video highlights below, very worth a screening if you weren't able to watch in real time. Hell even if you were...
On the one hand, the Flyers lost to the Capitals despite Washington's being without their top defensemen and one of the best forwards in the world. Their goaltending was insufficient, to put it mildly. Bob looked unsettled, flubbing what should have been an easy save on a long, unscreened shot to open the scoring for the Caps. Then he seemed to get lost for a moment with traffic converging around the crease, ultimately getting beat by Mike Knuble, who had just played Sean O'Donnell pretty hard on his way to the cage.
Boosh seemed to play the role of the savior when he came in in relief, serenaded by the crowd as he took the ice and for every save throughout the second and third periods. But, after the Flyers had taken the lead, he eventually let up the game-tying goal on a shot that felt as weak as the first one that beat Bob (in actuality, it was a rocket), then failed to make a single save in the shootout. After the first goal in the SO by Matt Hendricks, Boosh may need some tape on those ankles while taking his evening slushee.
On the other hand, the Flyers didn't wilt despite being in a huge hole against a team that can clamp down better than we have previously seen, and they were scrappy, motivated, and full of energy all night. The Giroux line (G, Carter, Nodl) played like a battering ram both in terms of hits and pressure on the net. Giroux and Nodl each had a goal and an assist and were a combined plus-5 on the night. Unfortunately, Giroux couldn't convert on his shootout attempt, getting too close to the goalie, which we all know the computer doesn't allow. More on Nodl in a bit. Both Leino and Briere scored in the shootout, and Briere also tipped home a beautiful backhand deflection from his office.
Every game between the Flyers and the Capitals this season went to at least overtime, with each side winning a pair. What a playoff series this would be...