Can the Flyers Come Back After a Disappointing Game 1?

While an opening-game loss to the Caps didn’t really hurt the team’s chances of winning the series much, they are heavy underdogs to begin with.

Flyers - goal game 1

Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle celebrates after scoring a goal on Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason (Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports)

Things did not go well for the Flyers in their first playoff game last night, a a 2-0 shutout loss to the Washington Capitals.

It’s not entirely surprising — the second wildcard in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers are matched up against a team that had the best record in the NHL’s regular season — though they did come out pretty strong, outshooting the Capitals 11-8 in the first period. They went 0-for-3 on the period’s only power plays, but they looked solid. Had they kept that up, they might have been able to steal Game 1.

No such luck. The team looked listless in the in the final two periods, taking just eight more shots, and only a strong performance in net by Steve Mason and a better-than-usual defensive showing kept them in the game. To make matters worse, Sean Couturier — the Flyers’ best defensive forward — was injured on an Alex Ovechkin check midway through the second period. Couturier is reportedly out for the series.

The Flyers game was scoreless until the Capitals scored a power-play goal 16:21 into the second period. That came on a delay-of-game penalty by Brandon Manning, who inadvertently tipped the puck into the air and over the glass in his own zone. The Caps scored just 19 seconds later, when a John Carlson shot bounced off two Flyers and past Steve Mason.

“The rule is there for a reason … But just a deflection like that, I don’t think it should be a penalty,” Manning told reporters postgame. “It was just a reaction. The D-man dumped it in, and I kind of had my stick out and reacted to it. It deflected out; it definitely wasn’t intentional.”

The Caps’ second goal came after Marcus Johansson stripped Jake Voracek of the puck and fed Jay Beagle on the odd-man rush. Beagle scored to put the game out of reach with just a few minutes left. “Jojo obviously [forced] a turnover and kind of a three-on-two,” Beagle said. “He kind of delayed and let their [defenseman] sink back, and I was able to walk down the middle. Obviously a great play by Jojo, and I just had to try to put it in the back of the net.”

The Flyers could have had a late power play if not for a curious call with about seven minutes left. The Caps’ Tom Wilson got a boarding penalty, but the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds started a fight with him. Simmonds picked up a roughing penalty, negating the Flyers’ power play — and both players were given 10-minute misconduct penalties. Simmonds, who scored 32 goals this season, would be out for the rest of the game.

It was part of a pattern all night: After falling behind, 1-0, the Flyers had just five shots the rest of the way.

One thing the Flyers can look to from the opener is their defense. The Capitals scored the second-most goals in the NHL this season, while the Flyers allowed the second-most of all playoff qualifiers. (Only Detroit let more in.) On Thursday night, they allowed just two goals to the Capitals offense and shut down Washington’s top line — which includes Ovechkin, who has led the league in goals for the past four seasons.

Plus, the Flyers were big underdogs in the series, and they still have a chance to steal one on the road. Moneypuck gave the Flyers a 33 percent chance of winning the series. After yesterday’s loss, the Flyers are given just a 30 percent chance. The Flyers still have a chance to win one on the road tomorrow night at 7.