I knew that the Caps had a tough schedule coming out of the Olympic break, although I hadn't realized just how quickly it got going. I watched last Thursday's game against Florida after putting the kids to be that night, but missed yesterday's Bruins game until today (part of that was being a bit sick), and almost missed today's Flyer's game entirely.
But first, let's talk about that Cats game.
The Caps started the first period very slowly. In fact, I don't think they managed any offensive zone possession until they got their first power play, five minutes in. Fortunately, they held Florida to only one shot over that time as well (I have no idea how, as the Cats had quite a bit of zone time). Even worse, Grabo was injured in that time, and was out for the rest of the game (and maybe the season? I need to find out).
But things went well on that power play, with several quick shots resulting in Brouwer pocketing a rebound to give the Caps a lead. Two and a half minutes later.... the Caps scored again, as Orlov jumped a pass and fired it ahead to OV for a 2-on-1 with Laich. That ended in Laich's nicest goal of the season, as he rifled the pass behind Thomas to double the lead.
Play went back and forth for the rest of the period, with a small edge to Florida in possession, but the Panthers did manage to score on a very pretty pass from Winchester in the corner to Flash out front.
The second period started pretty slow for the Caps as well, with Florida scoring in the first minute to tie the game up. But Washington retook the lead three minutes later on an innocuous-seeming play that finished with Erat shooting it into Thomas, and Backstrom cleaning up the rebound into an unguarded goal.
Washington looked pretty good, with play going back and forth for much of the rest of the period. But they got another power play with a minute and a quarter left, as Jovo-cop had to trip Brouwer to keep him getting in alone behind the defense. That resulted in another power play goal half a minute later, with Brouwer tipping in OV's shot to get back to another two-goal lead.
The third period didn't seem to start with a big lull like the first two periods, but there still wasn't much happening for quite a while. Unfortunately, when something did happen, it followed Holtby accidentally putting the puck over the glass, and Shore found the back of the net on the resulting power play. Just over a minute later, Boyes also found the twine to tie the game up again (ugh!).
Thanks largely to several more power plays, the rest of the period went largely in Florida's favor, although Washington did manage to score again when Backstrom sprung Laich and OV on another 2-on-1 and OV scored on pretty much the mirror of Laich's earlier goal.
One bit of fun in there came half a minute earlier as Green was sprung coming out of the box on one of those penalties, and got a clean breakaway. His subtle move actually got Thomas to trip himself, but Tim stayed with the play and got his glove on the final shot (oh, to have gotten that shot up just a little bit) for the save. Very disappointing.
But the Caps did hold on for the win, happily. It wasn't impressive looking (though Fenwick 5-on-5 close did favor the Caps, slightly), but they got the job done.
Holtby looked pretty good; it was hard to fault him for any of the goals scored, although that delay of game penalty certainly didn't help.
The power play was certainly cooking. They got two goals in less than a minute and a half of total man-advantage time, after generating ten shot attempts (eight (!) on net). Gotta love that!
The penalty kill looked pretty good at first glance, with only the one goal in almost ten minutes of time short-handed. But that was with twenty-two shot attempts (eleven on net), which is far too many. So we'll have to chalk the results up to good luck and good goaltending.
Overall, the only thing to be upset about was that they twice failed to hold two-goal leads, which is not exactly a new situation with the Caps. The old trope about it being "the most dangerous lead in hockey" is certainly crap, but it didn't feel like it in that game.