By Bill Sands
If the purpose of a bye week is to give a team the chance to rest and return with a renewed vigor, no one told the Washington Capitals. Heading into the break, the Capitals had won six of their past seven games, including a thrilling last-second win against the Carolina Hurricanes last Friday. But after coming back from their week off, Washington has looked sluggish and muddled as they’ve lost three games in a span of four days.
The slide picked up momentum on Sunday afternoon with an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. Afternoon games have long been an issue for the Capitals and Sunday was no exception. A slow first period saw few scoring chances and little action. Things would stay quiet until the six-minute mark of the second, when Michael Raffl finally opened the scoring for Philadelphia
The goal finally brought some energy to the game as both teams started racking up chances, but Brian Elliott (27 saves) and Braden Holtby (21 saves) stood tall and kept things at 1-0. The Caps finally broke through late in the second period when Claude Giroux was whistled for slashing. Standing in his usual spot, Alexander Ovechkin received his usual pass from John Carlson and fired his usual one-timer over Elliott’s shoulder for a power-play goal with just 16 seconds left in the period.
Despite being a tie game between heated division rivals, the third period didn’t offer much in the way of excitement. Washington mustered a mere eight shots, which was still double the total of four that Philadelphia threw at Holtby. Things were still tied at the end of the third, meaning overtime would be needed,
The Flyers would need only one shot to win it, however. Right off the opening faceoff for the extra period, the Flyers took control and worked the puck to Travis Konecny, who made a couple of nice moves and ripped one past Holtby to give the Flyers the extra point.
The Capitals need to figure things out, and their schedule isn’t doing them any favors. The team is off until Thursday, and then has another week off before playing Philadelphia again next Wednesday. It’s hard to establish a rhythm with such an erratic schedule, but the Caps will have to make do and get back to their winning ways.