Sunday night, the lone goal required in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 1-0 win over the Capitals developed after an offensive-zone turnover by Alex Ovechkin in the second period. The star left wing said he was trying to make a play but instead gave the puck away, sending the rush back into the Washington zone.
Deep in the corner Zac Rinaldo tied up Dennis Wideman, leaving the puck free for Sean Couturier, who sent it up to Matt Carle on the left point.
A pass along the blue line brought it to Pavel Kubina on the right point near the Flyers’ bench, Ovechkin half attempted to block the shot from the Philadelphia blue liner but didn’t get a piece of it. Kubina’s shot was redirected by Eric Wellwood to make it 1-0 and it would be the only goal the Flyers needed.
“It’s tough loss for us, I think,” Ovechkin said. “My mistake cost us two points and it cost us the game.”
After that goal, Ovechkin didn’t take a shift for the next 6 minutes 39 seconds but Coach Dale Hunter insisted that he wasn’t benching the captain, rather that he was simply matching lines.
“Guys, it’s not a benching. Maybe he missed a shift. Guys, I was matching lines,” Hunter explained to reporters. “I definitely was matching lines, it was one of those things that he wasn’t the right match up. I didn’t want him against [Jaromir] Jagr and Jagr’s line.”
Jagr took two shifts during the extended period Ovechkin was on the bench, the first began with 9:57 elapsed and lasted 59 seconds and the second began with 13:15 elapsed and stretched for the next 61 seconds.
Given that playing at home gives Washington the last change, it seems curious that Hunter wouldn’t want his top line on the ice to help try and erase a one-goal deficit. But Ovechkin wasn’t alone in his long layoff either. His linemates, Marcus Johansson and Troy Brouwer did as well.
All three were on the ice when the goal was scored with 7:51 gone in the second period. After the Flyers’ took their 1-0 lead, Ovechkin’s next shift came 14:30 into the frame, Johansson’s at 14:01 and Brouwer’s 14:47.
“People make mistakes,” Hunter said. “It’s what you do after. … In the third period he had his chances and the goalie was good tonight.”
In the third period all three members of the first line played more than seven minutes, with Ovechkin clocking in with 8:37 in playing time and three scoring chances. Regardless of whether Hunter called it a benching, Ovechkin responded as though it was such and he was a noticeable presence in the third, unlike his limited role in the first two frames.
He was credited with two hits, blocked a shot, created offensive opportunities for himself and teammates and recorded five of his seven shots on goal in the third.
“He was playing hard, he was going for pucks, he was trying to make things happen the best he could. He’s a big part of the team and we need him going,” Brouwer said when asked about Ovechkin’s play in the third. The winger was then questioned about whether it might have been a move for accountability, which has been a season-long buzz word around the Capitals.
“I don’t know. That’s Dale’s department. Right now, guys we need everyone going we can’t have any time to babysit,” Brouwer said. “It’s not the time of the year for that. Guys know what they need to do right now and if guys aren’t doing what they need to do, then we lose hockey games. Tonight was a tough way to lose and a tough one to lose, but we still lost.”
More on the Capitals Summary: Flyers 1, Capitals 0
Summary: Flyers 1, Capitals 0