The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime on Saturday. Lars Eller tied the game 1-1 with 40 seconds remaining in the third period and Conor Sheary won it in overtime after a fantastic pass by Nic Dowd.
“That was a real gutsy game with what we’re dealing with right now,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said.
No matter how enthralling and fun the comeback win was, the victory was completely overshadowed by the Capitals’ rapidly expanding infirmary list. Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson were late scratches for the game joining Alex Ovechkin (lower body), Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID protocol), and Ilya Samsonov (COVID protocol) out of the lineup. During the game, Tom Wilson got injured in the first period, returned in the second period, and never quite looked the same. TJ Oshie got injured late in the second period and did not return.
Meanwhile in Hershey, Michal Kempny got hurt by an ice scraper.
Laviolette was asked about the injuries post-game.
“Everybody… everybody is a lower-body injury,” Laviolette said exasperated.
“We didn’t rest anybody. If we had guys that were up to where they needed to be to play, the lineup would have been different. We dressed all the available players for us tonight.”
The last time Capitals played without Ovechkin, Backstrom and Carlson was 4/10/16 (Caps rested players in regular-season finale).
This is the first time they've played a game without Ovechkin, Backstrom, Carlson and Kuznetsov since Kuznetsov's NHL debut 3/10/14
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) May 8, 2021
With the team seven to eight days out from Game One of the playoffs, Laviolette was asked if the bad luck was a concern.
“There’s always concern,” Laviolette said. “We had another one leave tonight. There’s always concern. We’ll see where we’re at when we get a couple days here. We have one game left that we gotta get by and get through and then we’ll go from there.”
WSH's top point-getters
Backstrom – injured
Carlson – injured
Oshie – injured
Ovechkin – injured
Wilson – playing through it?
Kuznetsov – covid
Vrana – traded
— RMNB (@russianmachine) May 9, 2021
Since the Capitals could not win in regulation, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the East Division crown, giving the Capitals the second seed in this year’s postseason. They will play either the Boston Bruins or the New York Islanders in the first round.
It’s unclear if all the Capitals’ injured players will be fully healed for the start of the series, but the team instead, focused on the here and now: what they accomplished Saturday.
“I don’t know how we pulled it off, to be honest,” Lars Eller added. “I can’t remember ever missing so many guys and guys dropping during the game.”
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