Friday, April 11, 2008

Ovechkin, Capitals erase 2 goal deficit to down Flyers in Game One

It almost seemed inevitable. The game was tied 4-4 late in the third period, and Alexander Ovechkin had yet to score a goal. Somehow, everyone knew that he was going to make his mark in this game, his first ever in the NHL playoffs. Sure enough, Ovechkin netted the game winning goal in the final five minutes of play. He created the whole play on his own, striking with an unassisted goal after he took the puck away from Lasse Kukkonen in the Flyers' zone and punched it past Martin Biron to win the game for the Captials 5-4.

The momentum shifted constantly in the game, with each team grabbing it and subsequently giving it up. Donald Brashear of all people scored the first goal of the game 3 minutes in, but the Flyers responded five minutes later with a goal by Vinny Prospal. The Caps then scored again early in the second, but after that the Flyers took the game over, scoring three unanswered goals to take the lead 4-2. Prospal and Danny Briere led the offensive explosion, as each got 2 goals and an assist. The second period was a demonstration of how good the Flyers can be when the top line is clicking.

Unfortunately, as good as the second period was, the third was a major letdown. The Capitals scored early in the period (a common theme on the night) and then tied the game shortly thereafter. The game was up and down from there, with both teams getting plenty of 3 on 2 opportunities but neither one capitalizing. Ovechkin eventually scored his goal and the Flyers were unable to respond in the final minutes.

The Flyers should look at this game as the one that got away. They will likely need to win one of these first two games in Washington, and they let a great opportunity tonight slip away. Philly was able to contain Ovechkin for most of the night, but he broke through right when his team needed him. I guess that's why he's the MVP.

Briere and Prospal were awesome offensively, but the Flyers got no contributions from anyone else. Scottie Upshall was all over the ice and made a number of hustle plays, but he was unable to generate any great scoring chances. Jeff Carter had a number of chances that he either missed the net completely on or shot right at Capitals goalie Cristobal Huet.

The Flyers should recognize the things they did well in the second period and use them in their game plan for game 2 on Sunday. This series is in no way over, but the Flyers will need to capitalize on what Washington gives them if they are going to advance.

Go to the previous post to read my Game Blog for Game one. I will be doing another Game Blog for Game two, so check back on Sunday for that.

Here is Ovechkin's game winner. Notice the terrible play first by Jaroslav Modry and then by Kukkonen that leads to the scoring chance. I bet Kukkonen is benched next game because of this.

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