Braden Holtby makes 41 saves as Washington Capitals defeat Philadelphia Flyers again

By Harvey Valentine, The Sports Xchange  |  April 17, 2016 at 12:47 AM
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WASHINGTON -- The Philadelphia Flyers have done a decent job against the top-seeded Washington Capitals at even strength thus far.

Special teams are another matter.

Braden Holtby made 41 saves, Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists, and the Capitals defeated the Flyers 4-1 on Saturday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their opening-round playoff series.

Jason Chimera scored a fluke goal from center ice and John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin scored power-play goals.

The Capitals killed off all three Philadelphia power plays -- including a 5 on 3 -- and scored both times they had the man-advantage.

"Usually you don't see that many penalties in the playoffs," Holtby said. The PKs there, we don't get rattled if they call something against us. We're ready to perform."

The Capitals have scored on 3 of 8 power-play tries, while the Flyers are scoreless in seven power-play chances.

"I thought our power play was pretty good tonight," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "Their goaltender was a little bit better, so I guess we've got to be a little bit better and that's what we'll do."

Play resumes Monday night in Philadelphia.

Jakub Voracek pulled the Flyers to within 2-1 in the second period and Steve Mason had 19 saves.

Marcus Johansson had his third and fourth assists for the Capitals.

Holtby was again aided by teammates willing to sacrifice their bodies as the Capitals blocked 25 shots.

The Flyers were without second-line center Sean Couturier (upper-body injury), who is out for the series after a hard check from Ovechkin in Game 1.

After putting 19 shots on Holtby in all of Game 1, the Flyers matched that total in the first period on Saturday night, though also with nothing to show for it.

Holtby made several point-blank stops during a Flyers 5-on-3 advantage late in the period.

"Couple huge saves, couple big blocks, guys working their tails off," Carlson said. "We kill that off and get momentum, and that's huge."

The Capitals picked up a power-play chance midway through the period and, with the Flyers' Nick Shultz playing without a stick, Carlson fired from the point through a screen and past Mason at 14:09.

Ovechkin registered another bone-crushing hit. In Game 1, he put Couturier out of action with a clean hit along the boards and Saturday night sent Brayden Schenn over the boards and into the Flyers' bench with first-period check.

"Sometimes you just have to play physical if you don't have an opportunity to do something else," said Ovechkin, who at that point was scoreless in the series.

Less than a minute after Mason went to a split to make a great pad save to rob Carlson early in the second period, the Flyers goalie gave up one from 100 feet.

Karl Alzner cleared the puck from deep in the Washington zone and Chimera deflected it near center ice. The puck slid toward Mason and, when he went to play it, Mason missed it and the puck went through his legs for a goal, leaving him staring up in disbelief.

"I just tried to put it to the corner," Mason said. "I messed up."

Several Capitals expressed sympathy for Mason's gaffe.

"Couldn't watch the replay of it," Holtby said. "As a fellow goalie you never want to see that happen. I'm glad it wasn't a one-goal game in the end."

The Flyers rallied however, notching their first goal nearly 90 minutes into the series. Schenn and Voracek came in on the rush and the puck rolled loose. Washington defenseman Brooks Orpik couldn't control it and Voracek did, sliding it under Holtby's pad at 9:37.

Washington regained the two-goal lead when Ovechkin scored his first goal of the series, one-timing a cross-ice feed from Backstrom past Mason from the left circle with 2:39 left in the period.

NOTES: Philadelphia's 42 shots on goal are the most they've had in a playoff game since May 2, 2011 when they had 54 in an overtime loss to Boston. ... With second-line C Sean Couturier (upper-body injury) out, RW Brayden Schenn slid over to center and RW Sam Gagner moved from the third line to the second. F Scott Laughton made his playoff debut, playing LW on the third line, where Matt Read moved over to RW. ... Flyers C Claude Giroux didn't participate in the morning skate. ... Philadelphia scratched C R.J. Umberger, C Jordan Weal, and D Evgeny Medvedev. ... LW Alex Ovechkin began the night three points shy of passing Dale Hunter (72) for first place on the Capitals' playoff points list. ... Washington scratches included D Mike Weber, RW Stanislav Galiev, C Michael Latta and D Taylor Chorney.

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