Philadelphia Flyers: Capital gains in DC

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

Needing a strong start to a critical stretch of games, the Philadelphia Flyers delivered a big performance in a 7-2 win at the Washington Capitals.

The big story prior to the Philadelphia Flyers‘ game against the Washington Capitals on Saturday night was whether or not the scorching-hot Alex Ovechkin, sitting at 698 career goals, could score a pair to become just the eighth NHLer to ever reach the 700 mark.

It appeared that the Flyers would have a tough time containing the Washington captain, who had scored 14 goals in his last 7 games, and that coming out on the winning side of the equation would be an even more daunting task.

More from Philadelphia Flyers

Instead, the Flyers delivered a star-spangled beatdown to their hosts in our nation’s capital city.

After the teams had dueled to a pair of one-goal games earlier this season in Philadelphia, it felt like they were destined for another close affair when the scene shifted to DC. But three Flyers goals in rapid succession early in the second period effectively put this one on ice.

The game, however, really played out in a number of chapters.

In the first period, the Flyers were lagging. Brian Elliott, fresh off a dreadful showing during Thursday’s loss to the Devils, had to make several key stops. He looked good from the start, and it was a positive sign for the rest of the night. The Flyers would open the scoring on a power play goal by Sean Couturier, which was surprisingly (since he has been playing well) his first goal in nine games.

Washington would even the score with a power play goal of their own to send things to the intermission at 1-1. It was a fine road period by the Flyers, but you had to figure that the Capitals would make their push early in the second.

Yet the Flyers would have none of it, slamming home those three goals against hapless Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who had no answer. But even at 4-1, there was still more than half a game to play. So, credit the Flyers for holding the Caps at bay during the second period, even amid multiple Washington power plays. It seemed as if the referees were trying to make it a close game.

In the third period, the Flyers did more of the same, scoring thrice to go up 7-1 before eventually polishing off a 7-2 victory. Perhaps most encouragingly, Claude Giroux finally netted a goal, which ended a 13-game drought. It was part of a 3-point night for the captain, which brought him to 800 career points. We thought we might see a milestone on Saturday night, but it was Giroux, not Ovechkin.

As for Ovechkin, it ended up being one of his quietest games of the season. He was held off the score sheet and only registered two shots for the game. For the Flyers, that’s about as good as it gets against an all-timer like him. And Brian Elliott was steady, but he didn’t have to stand on his head, as the team played a solid game in front of him.

The Flyers also dominated in the faceoff circle (46 out of 63) and matched the Capitals’ physicality on the night, most notably in the form of a big hit by Matt Niskanen on Radko Gudas and a fight (just barely) featuring Nicolas Aube-Kubel in the third period that netted him the ol’ Gordie Howe hat trick.

For a team facing a daunting stretch like the Flyers, this was an excellent start and a promising step in the right direction for the games to come. The “big guns” seem like they might be waking up, and Alain Vigneault‘s system is proving effective against challenging opponents.

Next. Flyers: In need of heart (and Hart) for crucial stretch. dark

A great effort yielded a great result, and for one night at least, all is well in Flyers Nation.