Photo: Rob Carr
After Monday night’s anarchic attempt at a hockey game, the Washington Capitals held a 3-0 series lead. In 180 minutes of hockey, the Philadelphia Flyers took 96 PIMs. Washington’s power play was eight for 17. The Caps, it seemed, were in for a long layover before facing the winner of the Rangers-Penguins series.
“Everything they’ve gotten to a point we’ve given them,” Wayne Simmonds said in the minutes after Game Three ended. “We’ve got to stay out of the box.”
The Flyers have done that the last two games, reducing Washington to five power plays in Games Four and Five. Without that boost, the Caps fell when the series shifted back to Verizon Center Friday night. They outshot the Flyers 44-11 — shot attempts were 82-27 — but lost the special teams battle. Philadelphia had six power plays while Washington’s deadly man-advantage unit was limited to three.
“We were in the box a lot,” Tom Wilson, who did not receive any infractions, said. “Yeah, we had a lot of shots, but we have to do a better job of getting to the interior and staying out of the box. If we play 60 minutes five-on-five, I don’t think you see that team standing up by the end of it.”
After capitalizing on an out of control Flyers team early in the series, the Caps got silly in Game Five. Justin Williams took three minors for high sticking, plus another penalty for goalie interference. Jason Chimera took had four PIMS, including two minutes for a reckless board midway through the third period. Washington finished the game with 19 penalty minutes, their second-highest total of the series.
“We can’t go to penalty box,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “We probably deserved every one of them. That’s crazy. You can’t do that, you can’t be undisciplined. We were the more disciplined team, I thought, early in the series. In this game, we weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be. We had some veteran players that weren’t disciplined, careless, whatever.”
Williams’s third minor for high-sticking was the one that cost Washington. Three seconds after his penalty expired, Ryan White deflected a puck towards Capitals defenseman Taylor Chorney, playing in place of the injured Brooks Orpik, who booted it past teammate Braden Holtby. The Flyers added an empty netter in the final minute. It was just their sixth shot on goal of the game at even-strength.
“We talk about in the playoffs is just get a puck at the net,” Karl Alzner said. “You never know what’s going to happen. It happened for them.”
For Washington, a 3-0 series lead is now down to 3-2. The Flyers, despite registering the fewest shots they’ve ever had in a single game, will have a chance to even the series Sunday in Philadelphia.
“You give them breaks, you five them power plays, it just kind of messes up the momentum, messes up the flow, gives them a little bit of hope, they get a lucky goal, and that’s the game,” Wilson said.
“It’s coming down to getting the job done,” Wilson concluded. “We’ve talked about pretty much everything. I’m pretty sick and tired of talking about Philly.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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