Edinburgh Capitals hosted Guildford Flames in the Surrey side’s first visit to Murrayfield since joining the Elite league.
It was a worthwhile journey for the Flames, as they were the convincing winners of the game, defeating the Capitals 7-2 in a game in which special teams played a large part.
The Capitals remained short-benched, with their captain D’Orazio and Lawrence still out through injury, but they had the best of the play through the first ten minutes, pushing hard and getting a number of opportunities on the Flames’ goal. However, the Flames goalie, Carrozzi, was doing his best impersonation of a brick wall and keeping the Flames in the game while they found their skating legs. An early power play for the Capitals was easily killed by an aggressive Flames PP, but the Capitals resumed pushing hard.
It took Valeyev being sent off for a 2+2 for a hook and a slash at the 7:42 mark; the Capitals successfully killed the first penalty but the Flames, with the EIHL’s best power play, were able to take the lead with a shot from Yadlowski. They started to play into the game a bit more after that. With both sides exchanging a number of penalties - a feature of the game, refereed by Pavel Halas - it was the Flames who scored on another power play (Banashkov, high-sticks) when a point shot was blocked but Walker was able to score on the rebound from behind a Capitals’ screen to go 2-0 ahead. By the end of the period, Flames had levelled the ice a lot and more importantly kept the Capitals off the board, ending it 2-0, despite the Edinburgh side outshooting the Flames 18-7.
However, things were to fall apart in the second, with the Capitals starting the period very flat, and really struggling to move the puck out from their own end, disrupted time and again by a Flames forecheck which battled hard for every puck. Shegalo, the Capitals goalie found himself having to make a number of stops as the Flames drove into the crease, apparently able to pass to each other around the crease unhindered. Relying on a goalie to be your defence was never going to be sustainable and sure enough, Flames went 3-0 up when they drove the crease again, Stewart getting several chances at it before Shegalo had thought he covered it, only to have it trickle slowly into the goal as he came out of crouch.
Flames got their third power play goal of the night - and fourth in total, after the Capitals bench had taken an ‘abuse of officials’ minor penalty. Driving the net once more, Stewart was able to chip a rebound over the top of Shegalo for a 4-0 lead that felt insurmountable.
A minute later it was the Capitals’ turn on the power play, when Rachinski was called for slashing. A minute after that, Anderson scored, taking the puck behind the net and then beating Carrozzi up high to break Carrozzi’s clean sheet and give the Capitals a small glimmer of hope. Play was less one-sided until the end of the second as a result, the Capitals trying to come back into the game. They were aided by Rachinski receiving another penalty, this time a 2+10 for checking Trakhanov into the boards from behind. Trakhanov was slow to get to his feet, but carried on playing.
Hopes of any third period comeback were also ruined by Banashkov adjudged to have slewfooted in the dying seconds of the second period, receiving a match penalty, meaning that the Capitals would start the third killing a five minute major, as well as meaning one of our most skilled players was unable to start, and reducing our already depleted forward lines.
Flames were able to take advantage of the major penalty, swarming the net, with the Capitals unable to clear the puck. Shegalo made several saves in quick succession, but the puck kept coming back at him and he was eventually (and inevitably) beaten to give the Flames a 5-1 lead.
Because it was a major, Capitals continued on the penalty kill after the power play goal and the situation was worsened when Vorobyev was called for hooking, leaving the Capitals killing 5 on 3 for 2 minutes.
Somehow, they did it. They gritted their teeth and hung on and got through a 2 minute 5 on 3.
We actually had a short period of even strength play for a while, and the Anderson - Cazzola - Vorobyev had a good forecheck going, forcing the Flames into a number of turnovers and working well with the defence to keep the puck in the offensive zone - it was finally rewarded when Anderson passed across the slot to Cazzola who buried it into the empty net the puck movement had created for him.
It was the last high spot for the Capitals; Kolesnikovs was sent to the box for cross-checking shortly after - a decision the Capitals fans loudly protested and yes, the Flames scored on the power play. That was it for Shegalo - the puck had gone through him on a goal mouth scramble - and McLaughlin went in in relief.
The final twelve minutes would see another four penalties awarded, but only one even strength Flames goal, just as a Capitals power play came to an end, Flames came in on a breakaway and had a tap-in goal as a result - bring the score to 7-2 which is how the game finished.
Flames MoM was Ackered, with two points, although a number of Flames players had multi-point nights including Geoff Walker, on 1G 3A. Capitals MoM was Anderson, who scored the first goal and set up the second.