On Wednesday night the Capitals beat the Flyers 4-1 in a tough, tight, bruising affair. There were multiple skirmishes and Matt Niskanen left the ice with a lower-body injury, but the Capitals played a controlled brand of hockey and kept a desperate Flyers team in check, getting back in the W column after falling to the bye week curse with back-to-back losses. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice, and Nicklas Backstrom continued to be red hot with a two-point night.
This game was neck-and-neck through 40 minutes, with five-on-five shot attempts tied at 35 a piece to start the third period. The Caps held back after their fourth goal, and shot attempts ended up at 54 to 46 in favor of the Flyers. Washington did a good job getting in lanes and blocking shots, as unblocked shot attempts were almost even at 36 to 35 for the Flyers.
We already mentioned the fourth line and could easily give this to all three of them, but tonight this award goes to Braden Holtby. In such a tightly played game it’s easy to overlook Holtby’s 33-save performance. His .970 save percentage (all situations) was his best non-shutout performance of the season to-date. We just recently wrote that Holtby is a very serious Vezina frontrunner, and tonight’s solid performance (and borderline highlight-reel saves) only bolsters that case.
Earlier tonight we wrote about how tonight’s broadcast mentioned that Nicklas Backstrom leads the league in points scoring since January 1. That’s not a very small sample size. And after last night’s game, Backy sits fourth in points in the NHL at 63, five back from wunderkind Connor McDavid in two fewer games. Tonight’s broadcast mentioned that he could be in Hart contention, and we certainly wouldn’t disagree. That said, some of his underlying stats have actually been on the mediocre side in 2017 to-date, but in the end what counts the most is the scoreboard. And here is Backstrom’s rate of scoring in the season so far (all situations), courtesy of Corsica:
Stats courtesy of Corsica.hockey
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
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