It was hard to criticize much about the Washington Capitals based on their 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. Statistically, the Capitals were the better team, out-shooting Philadelphia, 44-11, and out-hitting them, 35-17.
“We can’t go to the penalty box,” Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said. “I’ll look at all six penalties, but I think we probably deserved every one of them. That’s crazy. We can’t do that. We can’t be undisciplined. We were the more disciplined team, I thought, early in the series, and this game we weren’t. We weren’t as disciplined as we needed to be, and we had some veteran players that weren’t disciplined.”
The Capitals were officially called for eight penalties, one being T.J. Oshie’s fighting major just 10 seconds into the game. No one had a worse night with the officiating than Justin Williams, who got whistled for two high-sticking penalties – one of which was a double minor 1 minute and 8 seconds into the game – and also goaltender interference.
“He’s an outstanding player and an outstanding leader for us,” Trotz said of Williams. “I expect him to be awesome next game. … I kept going back to him because I trust him. He didn’t sit on the bench. I trust him that he will respond in the right way, and I expect him to do that.”
Playoffs are typically a time when whistles go quieter, but penalties and special teams decided the first four games of this series. Flyers Coach Dave Hakstol indicated that more should’ve been called on the Capitals on Friday night, equating at least two hits with being “every bit as impactful” as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s penalized hit from behind on Dmitry Orlov. That led to the league suspending Bellemare for a game.
“It’s that kind of series,” Hakstol said.
Washington’s penalty kill has been a strength of the team in the playoffs, as the Capitals have allowed just one goal in 21 times shorthanded through five games. But Philadelphia’s first goal of the game came three seconds after a Williams penalty was killed off, with Ryan White flinging a puck towards the net. It got a lucky bounce off Taylor Chorney’s skate. The Flyers’ second goal was on an empty net.
“We were in the box a lot,” Tom Wilson said. “Yeah we had a lot of shots, but we’ve got to do a better job of getting into the interior, staying out of the box. If we play 60 minutes, five-on-five, I don’t think you see that team standing up by the end of it. But you give them breaks, you give them power plays, you give them that, it just kind of messes up the momentum, messes up the flow and gives them a little bit of hope. They get a lucky goal in, and that’s the game.”