It’s hard to win games when your goaltender has allowed as many goals from the other side of the red line as his entire team has scored on the opponent. The Flyers will try and move past that, put a few pucks in the net and get a win against the heavily-favored Capitals when the series returns to Philadelphia for Game 3 on Monday.
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The Capitals were a huge favorite in each of the first two games and are expected to put the Flyers away rather easily. They haven’t disappointed so far, taking a 2-0 series lead. With the best-of-seven moving to Philly, look for the moneyline odds to fall below the -212 the Capitals were pegged in the first two.
The Flyers beat Washington when the teams last met at Wells Fargo Center, posting a 2-1 shootout victory on Mar. 20. Three of the last four meetings between the teams in Philly have played below the scoreline and there’s a good chance this one is a low-scoring affair as well.
Steve Mason carried the Flyers into the postseason, but he’s going to be remembered for the most embarrassing goal in Stanley Cup playoff history. A shot from the other side of the center red line somehow squirted between Mason’s pads and nestled in the back of the net. Even worse for the Flyers and their netminder is the goal was the eventual game-winner.
Any chance Philly has of getting back in the series rests on how Mason responds in Game 3. He owned to the miscue, saying afterwards, “It’s a bad goal. My fault, obviously.” The offense hasn’t helped him out by scoring only one goal, putting added pressure on Mason to stop everything that comes his way.
The likely Vezina Trophy winner has continued to play at an elite level in this series. After tying Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record, Braden Holtby has stopped 60 of 61 shots so far to boost his NHL-best career playoff save percentage to .938.
Holtby was the best player on the ice for 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 penalty kills as Washington stayed perfect when down a man or more in the series. He was tested a bit more Saturday, stopping all 19 first-period shots, equaling the total from his Game 1 shutout.
Washington’s special teams, along with the goaltending of Holtby, have been huge so for. The Caps’ power play and penalty kill were both ranked in the top-five during the regular year and the units are humming in this series.
The power play struck twice in Game 2 and the Caps have scored half their goals in the series with the extra attacker while clicking at a 37.5 percent success rate. The penalty kill is perfect through two games and kept Philly off the board during a 1:53 two-man disadvantage in the first period when the Caps were clinging to a 1-0 lead.
The loss of centerman Sean Couturier is big for the Flyers, who don’t have the talent to matchup with the Capitals even at full strength. His absence was noticeable in Game 2, but wasn’t the reason for Philly’s 4-1 loss. That would be Holtby, who stopped 41 shots to put the Caps up 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.
Washington coach Barry Trotz preached special teams play all season to his club and the boys responded with the fifth-best power play and second-ranked penalty kill. And that’s carried over to this series with the Caps notching three PPG’s while stopping all eight shorthanded situations.
The Flyers will get a shot of adrenaline by returning home for Game 3 and really need a strong effort from Mason after his horrific blunder on Saturday. That won’t be enough, however, to slow down the Caps, who are on a mission.
NHL Odds: Washington 3, Philadelphia 2
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