April 12, 2008

Flyers Vs Capitals 04/11/2008 EC Quarterfinal Game 1 Review

Flyers 4 - Capitals 5

While the Philadelphia Flyers' top two forwards scored all their goals, the Washington Capitals' got some help from the fourth line in another typically dramatic come from behind Capitals win. Three of the Capitals ended up with a multi point effort in Washington's first playoff game since 2003.

The Capitals started off pretty well in the first period, with fourth line forward Donald Brashear putting the Cap's on the scoreboard at 3:16. Defenseman Tom Poti took a long range shot that was deflected toward Brashear by linemate Matt Bradley. Donald took the loose puck and made a fine move to the right side of the net before putting it past Philadelphia's netminder Martin Biron. I bet it felt good getting a playoff goal against his former team. Unfortunately, Flyers' RW forward Vinny Prospal evened the score about five minutes later, right off a draw. Washington's goalie Cristobal Huet never saw it coming. He had three guys screening the shot, including Caps' defensemen Milan Jurcina and Mike Green. Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell was the Flyer camping out at the crease, as usual.

The second period started off much like the first, with fourth line center scoring a goal at 4:08. Matt Bradley was in on this one too. He dumped the puck deep into the Flyers end, drawing two defenders along with him as he retrieved the puck. Then, while facing the end wall, Brads sent the puck between his legs and back toward Dave Steckel. Steckel roofed his first NHL level playoff goal, glove side. After that, the Flyers started to get a little nasty. Like when Scottie Upshall took a shot around the middle of the period. While Huet was trying to make the save, Jeff Carter followed up the shot by jamming his stick into Huet's crotch. That went unnoticed by the referees. The slash by Danny Briere behind the net was called at 9:38. But, Washington failed to score with the man advantage. Worse yet, Mike Knuble fed an outlet pass to Briere, as he was released from the penalty box two minutes later. Briere snapped it past Huet to tie the score 2-2. Cristobal seemed a little shaky for the most of the second period. With the Capitals' defense not being quite as aggressive as they should've been at the same time, Washington wasn't looking very good. When Prospal made it 3-2 after a turnover at the end of a Cap's line change, the stunned fans were quiet for the first time in weeks. A flicker of doubt went through my mind, when Briere got his second on a lucky back door chance about three minutes later.

As soon as the third period started, you could tell that the Capitals were back on line. The coaches and the veteren players with Stanley Cup Playoff experience must have straightened out the younger guys during the second intermission. In his first playoff game at the NHL level, Mike Green scored at 1:50 into the third. LW forward Alexander Semin passed the puck from the left sidewall to Sergei Fedorov at the far edge of the faceoff circle. Fedorov dished the puck to Green as he drove in on the other side. Green put it in past Biron, who tripped Mike as he crossed the top of the crease. With the Cap's resurging, Philadelphia took a few more cheap shots. Semin was hooked and Huet was downed in his crease. The ref's finally called a penalty, when Briere high sticked Matt Bradley. It sure looked intentional to me, as there was no reason for him to lift his stick up so high and horizontally. The Capitals made good use of this power play. Nicklas Backstrom passed the puck to Mike Green, who fired a hard slapshot that hit Flyer Patrick Thoresen. Alex Ovechkin grabbed the puck and sent it back to Green. Green's second slapper went in at 6:26 to tie the game at 4-4. The boys did another one of those pile up celebrations, and the crowd's volume went up another notch or two.

During the third period, Washington's defense was doing a much better job of keeping Philadelphia away from the front of the net. The whole team was energized and made more good clean hits. With about 4 1/2 minutes left, Alex Ovechkin got his first playoff goal. Alex poke checked a lazy pass by Lasse Kukkonen. He beat Kukkonen to the puck and snapped it past Biron for the game winner. The crowd leapt to their feet and screamed M-V-P!...M-V-P!...M-V-P!

The middle period was a little rough, but the Capitals got their first playoff win since April 12, 2003. In typical Capitals' fashion, they came from behind scoring three of their five goals in the third period alone. Also typical, it was Alex Ovechkin with the goal that put it away for good. Like you, I can't wait for game two.

All Photos - Getty Images

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