Flyers
The Flyers took a pound of flesh from the Caps in a hard-hitting contest, but Washington took two points thanks to a late comeback, securing home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a result. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Ly0n King would’ve been such a sick title. Maybe it’ll happen someday, but for now, the Philadelphia Flyers lose, 2-1, in overtime, to the Washington Capitals. Goals in the last minute of the third period and overtime for Washington lead the home team to victory, spoiling Alex Lyon’s stellar performance in goal.

The Flyers were essentially playing a Capitals-Hershey Bears hybrid tonight. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and John Carlson (139 cumulative points this season) all missed tonight’s game with lower-body injuries. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov are stuck on the COVID list. Washington’s cap situation actually limited them to dressing only seventeen skaters. The game got off to a weird start, with the refs whistling Ivan Provorov for unsportsmanlike conduct and hooking exactly sixty seconds in, only for a Tom Wilson hook to wipe one of those calls off the board within seconds. Then Nicolas Aubé-Kubel and Wilson got into a scary and accidental knee-on-knee collision, with both players leaving the ice gingerly. NAK returned, nearly scoring on his first shift back. Wilson returned to start the second. No harm, no foul.

The short-handed Capitals naturally played a very simplistic game, getting everything and everyone they could to the net. For some reason, Philadelphia just looked like they couldn’t keep up, as the Flyers were plagued by turnovers. Alex Lyon juggled a few shots but was pretty sharp overall. Other than an early iron strike by Travis Sanheim during the four-on-four phase, the Flyers hardly made Craig Anderson sweat. The Flyers managed exactly 0.5 expected goals for in the 1st (the Caps were at 0.93) and had to be feeling fortunate to be tied 0-0 after twenty.

Early in the second, Cam York drew his second penalty in as many games, but all that led to was a dreadful and unsuccessful Flyers power-play. Later, Trevor van Riemsdyk actually blocked a good chance for James van Riemsdyk off a bit of an overpass by Aubé-Kubel, who was all over the ice tonight but continues to struggle to convert on his chances, a recurring theme for him this season. It was a rough frame for Ivan Provorov — several botched keep-ins on ordinary passes to the point, then taking his third penalty of the night for interference. Washington’s persistent injury bug bit again when T.J. Oshie got his leg stuck in the boards in a scary-looking play in the waning seconds of the second. He didn’t return to the game; hopefully, that’s just the Caps taking precautions.

The Flyers largely dominated the middle period (73.21% Corsi, 56.89% xG at 5-on-5, score and venue adjusted), but had nothing to show for it. It wouldn’t take long to change that in the third. JVR made a good defensive play to break up a Washington cycle, then sprung Scott Laughton for a 2-on-1 with NAK. Laughton, learning from his winger’s earlier mistake, pulled the trigger himself and beat Anderson high short-side, giving Philly the all-important first goal for the third time in four games.

The game became awfully chippy after the Laughton tally. Phil Myers was slashed pretty badly by Daniel Sprong in a net-front battle, and Sam Morin and Garnet Hathaway got into trying to defend their teammates. Anthony Mantha got away with two punches to Joel Farabee, but not a third; though Farabee received a holding the stick call as well. And then Brenden Dillon tripped Travis Konecny well after a whistle with TK still at a fast enough speed to do some damage. The Flyers generated zero chances on the ensuing power-play; the Capitals had two.

Washington immediately pulled Anderson to start a power-play with 2:49 remaining in the third. Alex Lyon did his damndest, making some incredible saves on Justin Schultz and Tom Wilson. He got lucky when Dmitry Orlov cranked one off the post. The Flyers killed off the penalty, and Lyon was the biggest reason why. After all, Lyon stopped the first seventeen shots the Caps through his way in the 3rd and the first thirty-five overall. But the Capitals’ offensive push eventually poured over the edge on a one-timer by birthday boy Lars Eller with just 39.8 seconds left. So close but yet so far for Lyon for his first career NHL shutout. And so we head to OT.

By not winning in regulation, the Caps allowed the Penguins to officially clinch the East division title (the Caps can only tie Pittsburgh in points but would be behind them in regulation wins, the first tie-breaker). Lyon made the save of the game with an incredible save on another Eller one-timer. But with just under one minute to go in overtime, Nic Dowd sprung Conor Sheary to the goal, who snuck the puck through Lyon’s five-hole to clinch home ice for the Caps in the first round and the number two seed in the East.

Lindies

I don’t think this little fun fact needs any context. Sheesh, Zdeno.

Garrett Pilon did indeed make his NHL debut tonight, so congrats to him.

Another fun fact about Garrett Pilon: he and Carter Hart were teammates with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips in 2018.

Neither does this notable mention of how long ago the Caps played a game without most of their current core. This is also the first Capitals game without Backstrom and Ovi since April 10, 2016, which were healthy scratches for rest before the start of the playoffs.

Only one 2018 draft pick (Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov, 42) has more points this season than Joel Farabee’s 36. Farabee is right ahead of dynamic Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes and Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk, who both have 35. All except Farabee (14th) were drafted in the top seven. Not bad company for the Beezer.

Speaking of being in good company, Wade Allison is the fastest Flyer to record a multi-goal game (12 games) since Jeff Carter, who did so in his 11th game back in 2005.

This is the 14th meeting of the van Riemsdyk brothers (Flyers forward James and Washington defenseman Trevor). Trevor’s/the Caps’ win tonight evens the brotherly rivalry at seven head-to-head wins apiece.

The Flyers have not won consecutive games in 21 contests (it will ballon to 22 on Monday, regardless of the outcome). It’s the tenth time they’ve had a twenty-game streak of such inconsistency (the last was in 2017), and this current one is the longest drought in over a decade, per Jim Jackson on the Flyers broadcast.

For some reason, Scott Laughton loves playing the Capitals; he’s scored eleven goals against the Caps in his career, including his first career hat-trick earlier this year. He also had a two-goal game against them in the bubble during the round-robin in August. Laughton has no more than five against any other opponent.

If you’re going to Monday’s season finale, you can actually get the COVID-19 vaccine at the Wells Fargo Center as part of the Flyers “Take Your Shot” initiative. As Jim Jackson said, “No excuse there!” If you haven’t gotten your shot yet and you’re going to the game, don’t be like the 2020-21 Flyers and let the opportunity slip away. Or overpass like the team seemingly always does.

You also shouldn’t let the opportunity to read our latest NHL power rankings slip away.

3 Stars

3rd: Alex Lyon (PHI) – .950% SV (38 Saves/40 Shots), 2 GA on 3.14 xGA

2nd: Craig Anderson (WSH) – .966% SV (28 Saves/29 Shots), 1 GA on 1.72 xGA

1st: Conor Sheary (WSH) – Goal (14), 4 Shots, 20:38 TOI

Next

PHI – 5/10, 7 PM vs. NJ (19-29-7, L1)

WSH – 5/11, 7 PM vs. BOS (32-15-7, L1)

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Advanced Stats via Natural Stat Trick