Flyers 5, Capitals 2
Of all the changes the NHL has made to promote scoring, the Washington Capitals are having the most trouble adjusting to the officials' crackdown on obstruction.
They were whistled for six such infractions Saturday night at Wachovia Center, where the Philadelphia Flyers converted two of their corresponding power plays into goals and won, 5-2, in front of 17,225 fans.
Washington's overall effort was better than in its three previous preseason losses, but obstruction penalties at inopportune times cost the Capitals, who remain winless.
"I wish I had an answer," Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "Speed is dangerous. If you are not ready to play at this level, you end up taking some penalties. I asked the players if they wanted to talk to the referees again, and they said no. Some habits are hard to break."
In four exhibition games, the Capitals have been called for 33 hooking, holding and interference penalties. It's the league's latest attempt to deter slower and less skilled players from impeding faster, more talented ones.
"The game was played one way for 100 years or more, and now they are changing it," veteran defenseman Brendan Witt said.
Witt was one of the Capitals' better players in the game, but he was seated in the penalty box when Flyers right wing Jon Sim scored the second of his three goals to put Philadelphia ahead to stay, 3-2, midway through the third period. Witt had been penalized for hooking.
Capitals' prospect Jakub Klepis was in the penalty box for hooking when Sim gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead in the first period. Sim's ordinary wrist shot appeared to slip between Capitals starter Maxime Ouellet's glove and his leg pad.
Ouellet has yielded eight goals in five periods. The Capitals have permitted eight power-play goals in four games.
"You have to learn what you can and can't get away with," Witt added. "Every referee is a little difference in how he calls it, too."
Washington again fielded a lineup that did not include Alexander Ovechkin and was primarily comprised of prospects as Hanlon decides which players will play for him, and which ones will go to the minor leagues.
"Tonight, some of the players separated themselves," Hanlon said. "Some players are playing better than we anticipated and others are starting to drop off."
Ovechkin was held out of the lineup so he would be "fresh" for Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Hershey, Pa., home of the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate. The Capitals' No. 1 overall draft pick has appeared in only one of the team's four preseason games.
Capitals right wing Miroslav Zalesak tied the score at 1 on a power play late in the second period.
Capitals Notes: Defensemen Jakub Cutta (elbow), Nolan Yonkman (knee) and Shaone Morrisonn (groin muscle) are expected to be in the lineup Sunday. . . . Veteran center Andrew Cassels (broken cheekbone) also might make his Capitals debut. . . . Prospect Alexander Semin, who has for the second time in one year failed to honor his Capitals' contract, is not expected to report anytime soon. The team has not given up hope that another no-show, Petr Sykora, is on his way from the Czech Republic. . . . Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh's No. 1 overall draft pick in June, is not expected to play Sunday.