Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 6-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
How it happened: The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek after just 8:22 and by the middle of the second period the Flyers had made it 4-0 on a goal by Adam Hall and another by Giroux. Joel Ward started an impressive comeback with his 19th goal of the season, two more than his previous career high, and Alex Ovechkin [44th] and Troy Brouwer [17th] made things interesting with third-period goals. Voracek gave the Flyers a 5-3 lead with 8:09 remaining, but the Caps battled back with Brooks Laich’s deflection of a Mike Green shot for his seventh goal of the season. Steve Downie ended it with an empty-netter with 52 seconds left in regulation.
What it means: The loss was the Caps’ second straight to the Flyers, snapping a five-game points streak [4-0-1]. More importantly, the Caps [29-24-10, 68 points] are now four points behind the second-place Flyers in the Metropolitan Division standings and two points behind the third-place Rangers. The Caps are also one point behind the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have moved into the eighth and final playoff spot.
Tough to be Braden: Hours after learning Jaroslav Halak will be joining the Capitals in Boston on Thursday, Braden Holtby was asked to face the Flyers in a game the Caps desperately needed. Holtby allowed four goals on 18 shots and was pulled in favor of backup Philipp Grubauer, who joined the team from Hershey late in the afternoon. Holtby lasted just 31:52 but received little support from his teammates. The Caps were being outshot 18-4 at the time Holtby left the game.
Wanna go?: Once the Capitals fell behind 2-0, you just knew the gloves would hit the ice and that’s what happened. With just under 12 minutes gone in the opening period. A hard check by Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn on capitals call-up Ryan Stoa sparked a mini brawl involving Tom Wilson and Schenn; John Erskine and both Vinny Lecavalier and Wayne Simmonds. Wilson immediately went after Schenn and while they were throwing fists, Erskine found himself surrounded by three orange jerseys. When Erskine got to his feet he and Lecavalier got into it, with Simmonds trying to pull Erikine away from the 33-year-old veteran. Lecavalier has been in two fights this season and both have been against the Caps. Earlier this season he got bloodied up in a fight with Steve Oleksy. When the dust settled, Erskine and Lecavalier had game misconducts.
Good Mike, bad Mike: Caps defenseman Mike Green committed a blatant giveaway to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead 5:26 into the second period. Green gathered the puck behind his own net, felt pressure from a forechecking Scott Hartnell, and coughed up the puck to Claude Giroux, who fired his second goal of the night past Holtby. At the other end of the ice, Green threw a pair of pucks at the net that were deflected by Ward and Laich for goals.
What’s next: The Caps are right back at it Thursday night in Boston when they face the Bruins at 7 p.m. on CSN. Jaroslav Halak is expected to join the team in Boston and get the start. Dmitry Orlov will serve the second game of his NHL suspension.