Capitals NHL 

Capitals send Philadelphia flying out of the playoffs

The Capitals closed out their series against the Flyers 4-2 with a 1-0 shutout on Sunday, and will have the Pittsburgh Penguins waiting for them in the second round. The Penguins finished off the New York Rangers in five games in their first-round series.

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom was the only one to provide any scoring in the game, while Braden Holtby put up a wall with 26 saves for the second shutout of the series. His performance kept the Flyers off the scoreboard, eliminating Philadelphia from the playoffs.

The Flyers had three shots on goal during the 5-on-3 advantage while Backstrom and Matt Niskanen were in the penalty box.  They couldn’t take advantage of the power play, Holtby answered every test during that stretch. While Braden didn’t have much work to do during the series against the Flyers, he was there to answer the bell when needed.

The Capitals had a short power play which resulted in no goals, but four seconds after it ended Backstrom one-timed a Marcus Johansson pass from the right circle over a lunging Neuvirth.

Michael Neuvirth was able to make 28 saves for the Flyers, who had won two straight games after falling behind 3-0. Neuvirth replaced Steve Mason as goalie to start Game 4 and allowed two goals on 105 shots in the final three games. That includes a 44-save shutout in Game 5 when the Flyers won 2-0 despite putting up 11 shots on goal themselves.  In Neuvirth’s three starts the Flyers scored four goals, one was an empty-netter. They scored six goals in six games and went 1-for-24 on the power play.

The Flyers gave it one last push in the final 2 minutes of the third period when they pulled Neuvirth to get an extra attacker in the game. They had two shots on goal, but Holtby stoned them both. The first was a point-blank shot by Shayne Gostisbehere’s and an attempted rebound by Jakub Voracek.

Washington and Pittsburgh will meet in the playoffs for the ninth time since 1991, with the Penguins winning seven of the prior eight series meetings.  Once again the Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin and Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby will come face to face in the playoffs. The Penguins defeated the Capitals in seven games in the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals. In that series, Ovechkin had eight goals and six assists to Crosby’s eight goals and five assists. Tensions will mount throughout this second round series, the star power doesn’t hurt from a viewing standpoint either.


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