Highlights: Capitals 5, Flyers 4
Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 5-4 shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center:
How it happened: The Caps grabbed an early lead on a power-play goal by Marcus Johansson but saw the Flyers storm back for four unanswered goals, one each by Claude Giroux, Mark Streit, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. The Caps staged an incredible third-period rally with goals by defensemen Mike Green and Dmitry Orlov and Alex Ovechkin sent the gamer into overtime with his league-leading 27th goal with 48 seconds remaining in regulation. Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the shootout and Philipp Grubauer stopped two of three shots to earn the win and improve to 3-0-1.
What it means: The second-place Capitals [18-12-3, 39 points] extended their lead to seven points on the Flyers [14-15-4, 32 points]. The two teams go back at it Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
Goal of the game: Ovechkin said he did not get much on his shot that sent the game into overtime but he celebrated like he had just scored the game winner in the Olympics, running and jumping into the arms of Mike Green.
Save of the game: Philipp Grubauer showed some serious explosiveness when he went from his right post to his left post to gobble up a shot from Sean Couturier and keep the score tied at 1-1 during a Philadelphia power play in the second period. Grubauer also got a glove on a Jake Voracek deflection on that same man-advantage.
Un-save of the game: Couturier scored the killer 2:18 into the third period when he banked a bad-angle shot from the goal line off the right pad of Philipp Grubauer and into the net for a 3-1 lead.
Check of the game: Ovechkin, who sat out the Caps’ 7-0 win over the Flyers on Nov. 1 with a shoulder injury, didn’t waste any time, dropping Braden Schenn with a cold, hard shoulder. Schenn, you may recall, jumped Alex Urbom in the clubs’ Nov. 1 brawlfest.
Powerful: Marcus Johansson’s first-period power-play goal was his fourth goal of the season and third on the power play. It came off a perfect pass from Alex Ovechkin. The Caps have scored a power-play goal in five of their last six games and in 18 of their 33 games this season. Of their 94 goals this season, 31 have come on the man-advantage.
Grabovski out, Latta in: Center Mikhail Grabovski sat out his first game for the Capitals, prompting the Caps to recall rookie Michael Latta from the AHL Hershey Bears. Latta played on a fourth line with left wing Aaron Volpatti and right wing Tom Wilson and got into a spirited scrap with Zac Rinaldo in the second period. Jay Beagle actually took Grabovski spot on the Caps’ second line, between left wing Eric Fehr and right wing Troy Brouwer.
Roster shuffle: The Capitals made a series of roster moves before Sunday’s game. They activated defenseman John Erskine, who had missed the previous 21 games with pain and swelling in his left knee. To make room, they placed Brooks Laich [groin strain] on long-term injury reserve. Laich is eligible to come off LTIR on Dec. 22 when the Caps face Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks.