Flyers Crush Caps 6-4

Published on March 6th, 2014

By CANDICE MONHOLLAN

cmonhollan@gmail.com

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins rivalry is known throughout the NHL world, but the rivalry with the Washington Capitals may make the blood boil just as much for players and fans alike.

Wednesday night’s game was no different as the Flyers 6-4 win also featured a line brawl with eight minutes left in the first period – fitting given it was also the 10th anniversary of the well-known brawl between the Flyers and Ottawa Senators.

“It’s always fun to play against them,” said Flyers forward Michael Raffl. “You feel it right away in warm-ups. You’re more ready than in other games.”

Early on it looked the Flyers were going to rout the Capitals with a 4-0 lead roughly halfway through the second period, but a strong push from the opposition in the third, combined with a deadly power play, had the Capitals climbing back in it.

“They’re a good power play,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. “They have a lot of tools that can hurt the other team. They move the puck well. I think we did good stuff on the PK, but they did some great stuff on the power play.”

All that great stuff led to three power-play goals for the Capitals and one coming 4-on-4, pulling them to within one goal of the Flyers twice in the third.

“For the first two periods, it was probably some of the best hockey we played all season long,” said Flyers goaltender Steve Mason. “Going into the third, we just stopped moving our feet and stopped playing the way that we were playing that gives us success.

“When you have the offensive talent that they do on their team, they can take advantage of your sloppiness and that’s exactly what happened, but we were fortunate to come out of the game in regulation with two points.”

The scoring began when forward Sean Couturier chipped a pass to Giroux while held up along the boards. Giroux cut to the front of goaltender Braden Holtby, deked him out of the net and put an easy backhander in at 6:48 of the first.

Forward Jakub Voracek followed up next with a power-play goal on a wrister from the top of the right circle just under two minutes later.

Mayhem ensued 12 minutes into the game when Flyers defenseman Luke Schenn rode forward Ryan Stoa into the rounded glass at the corner of the Flyer bench. Tom Wilson came in to defend his teammate and that’s when the chaos broke out and a line brawl commenced in the corner.

Out of it all, only Flyers forward Vincent Lecavalier and Capitals defenseman John Erskine were handed a game misconduct and tossed out.

“I made a hit and got asked to fight,” Schenn said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. Obviously you don’t want to see guys get kicked out of the game like Vinny. It’s a bad tradeoff for us for sure, but sometimes guys are standing up for each other and that’s the way it goes.”

The Flyers kept the pressure going in the second, stifling the Capitals to just eight shots through two periods while the home team piled on 23 and two more goals to the Capitals’ one.

Giroux racked up his second goal of the night on a misplay from Capitals defenseman Mike Green. Pressured by Scott Hartnell, Green tried to send a pass up from behind his own net, but Giroux pounced on the puck and snapped it by Holtby from one knee at 5:26.

Forward Michael Raffl scored his eighth of the season on a tip in front from Schenn’s shot on the power play for a commanding 4-0 lead. Newly acquired defenseman Andrew MacDonald had the secondary assist on the goal, giving him his first point as a Flyer.

“Obviously that’s a bonus,” MacDonald said. “Most important was the win, but … it’s nice to get that [first point] off my back.”

The goal also chased Holtby out of the net in favor of Philipp Grubauer, who was called up from Hershey earlier in the day on an emergency bases after the Capitals traded backup Michal Neuvirth.

The change in goal combined with a late power play goal from forward Joel Ward gave the Capitals the momentum they needed heading into the final frame.

Lethal scorer Alex Ovechkin notched his 44th of the year from the center of the left circle while on the power play. The puck appeared to have been caught in Mason’s glove, but somehow fell out and into the net at 6:35.

“I felt it hit my glove and I obviously didn’t have enough of it,” Mason said. “We’ll talk with the equipment company tomorrow.”

In less than seven minutes of the third, the Capitals already doubled their shot total from the first two periods and were not planning to let up anytime soon.

With 4-on-4 play, the Flyers defense broke down and defenseman Jack Hillen caught Kimmo Timonen and Brayden Coburn on the same side of the ice, leaving Troy Brouwer all alone at the hashmarks of the left circle and sent a perfect pass over. Brouwer blasted it by Mason to pull the Capitals to within one goal with over half a period left to play.

The Flyers regained the two-goal lead on Voracek’s second of the night. He came skating straight down the slot and fired on by Grubauer for a 6-4 lead.

But the Capitals got one right back just over two minutes later on another power play. This time, forward Brooks Laich tipped Green’s shot from below the blue line.

Flyers forward Steve Downie sealed the win with his empty-net goal with 51.9 seconds left in the game.

The Flyers could exhale once all was said and done and have extended their win streak to three.

They may have let the Capitals back in it, but the team could take a lot from the way their played through the first two periods.

“We have to have that on a consistent basis because every game moving forward is so important,” Mason said. “Tonight, for two periods, we played an extremely good hockey game. You can’t let your foot off the gas in this league because teams are going to take advantage of it like tonight.”

Source:  Andrew King

Source: Andrew King

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