Washington wastes 4-point game by Ovechkin: 3 reasons the Caps lost to Flyers

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J.J. Regan
·4 min read
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Washington wastes Ovi's 4-point game: 3 reasons the Caps lost originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals wasted a four-point game by Alex Ovechkin as they fell 7-4 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.

After not losing in regulation for the first nine games of the season, Washington has now lost in regulation in three straight games.

Here's how the Caps lost.

A rough day in net

Limiting the Flyers to only 23 shots on goal and a four-point game from Ovechkin should have been enough to win. It's almost always enough to win. But it wasn't on Sunday as the Caps could not buy a save.

After a fantastic start to the season, Vitek Vanecek showed a few holes in his ninth straight start. He was slow to recover during a scrum on the first goal from Scott Laughton leaving the net open. To be fair, he may not have been able to stop it even if he had moved a little quicker, but when he slid out in front, he was essentially out of the play at that point.

On the second goal, Vanecek drew himself off the post when he attempted a poke check, allowing Laughton to sneak one through the exposed net for his second goal of the game. Michael Raffl jumped in front of him on a screen to set up Robert Hagg's slapshot goal and James van Riemsdyk ended his afternoon when he beat him clean to the top corner.

Vanecek finished with just nine saves on 13 shots before departing. 

Craig Anderson came on in relief to make his Capitals debut and the longtime NHL veteran gave up a goal on the first shot he faced which gave Philadelphia a 5-4 lead early in the third period. He would finish with five saves on seven shots.

No momentum

The Caps have shown a penchant for giving up leads this season and that continued on Sunday.

Ovechkin spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the first period with a goal and an assist, but Laughton scored two minutes later late in the first to put Philadelphia on the board.

After the Flyers tied it, Ovechkin scored his second of the game to restore the lead, but less than four minutes later Robert Hagg tied it again.

Nicklas Backstrom tied the game at 4 with a late second-period goal. Those goals tend to be big momentum boosts, but it was Philadelphia which came out and responded as Sean Couturier gave the Flyers back the lead just 31 seconds into the third period.

Philadelphia got a late goal in the first period and an early goal in the second. The Caps scored a late goal in the second and then gave up an early goal in the third. That's not how that is supposed to work.

Washington was simply unable to build on momentum at any point in the game. Despite how in control the Caps appeared early, they were not able to build on that.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, did what Washington could not, taking control in the third period. The Flyers shut down the Caps in the final frame in a way that Washington should have done in the first. The result was predictable.

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Scott Laughton

Speaking of momentum, the turning point of the game was Laughton's first goal with just 1:27 remaining in the first period.

Laughton was in front of the net and able to put the puck home when Erik Gustafsson hit the cross-bar and the post, but failed to score. The loose puck dropped right for Laughton.

Laughton scored his second goal of the game 2:29 into the second period to really turn the momentum in Philadelphia's favor, beating Vanecek up high when Vanecek left the top of the net open on a poke check.

Laughton would finish off the hat trick with just over two minutes remaining as he went to the net and was able to score off a Joel Farabee rebound. In the end, the 7-4 scoreline didn't indicate the back-and-forth, competitive nature of the game. That also won't make the Capitals feel any better about a game they should have won.