Tyler J. Altemose
The red-hot Philadelphia Flyers received a warm welcoming back to the Wells Fargo Center this evening as they took on the Washington Capitals. The Flyers, who have spent 9 of the past 10 games on the road but have gone 7-3-0 in that stretch, tried to continue their winning ways against a Capitals team which has struggled at times so far this season.
Head coach Peter Laviolette opted for some lineup changes up front, likely the result of the Flyers sitting on and nearly blowing a 3-2 win against the Rangers on Sunday.
Nikolay Zherdev was promoted to the top line with Richards and Nodl, Briere remained the centerman to Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino, JVR, who has been impressive lately, was centered by Giroux on the third line with Carter on the right wing, and Powe moved down to the fourth line with Betts and Shelley.
The defense remained the same and Sergei Bobrovsky got the nod in net.
Dan Carcillo and Oskars Bartulis remained the healthy scratches while Pronger and Laperriere remained sidelined due to injury.
The Flyers opened things up quickly. Just 1:31 into the game, Jeff Carter picked up the puck in the neutral zone and battled Caps' defenseman John Carlson as he rounded the net. He beat goaltender Michal Neuvirth for the wraparound goal to put the Flyers up early.
Soon after that, Jody Shelley and DJ King decided to lock horns. Both players lost their helmet in the fight, and each landed several hard punches on the other. They remained locked up for several more moments until Shelley was wrestled to the ice.
From there, the Caps and Flyers exchanged offensive pressure. Like most contests between these two organizations, the game was very fast paced. Although puck control went back and forth for the remainder of the period, the Flyers made the most of it. Washington went the final 9 minutes of the period without a shot on goal.
Semyon Varlamov started the second period in net for the Capitals. It was reported that Neuvirth was citing stomach issues and decided to sit out the remainder of the game.
The second period continued much like the first ended, with exchange of control going back and forth amid a furious and tenacious pace. Claude Giroux would soon add another tally for the Flyers, however, off an assist by Carter. Carter passed to Giroux in the slot from behind the net. Giroux took the shot, controlled his own rebound, and got the puck past Varlamov to give the Flyers the 2-0 lead.
Despite a few offensive attacks from the Capitals, the Flyers maintained control over the pace of the game and seemed more confident on the ice than their Eastern Conference rivals.
The Caps came out with their guns blazing in the third, which put the Flyers on their heels. Sergei Bobrovsky played a pivotal role in Washington's inability to score, and Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen kept Ovechkin at bay for almost the entirety of the game.
But Washington played much tougher hockey, and soon enough they found themselves on the scoreboard as well. Former Flyer Mike Knuble scored a few minutes shy of the halfway mark as he picked up a loose puck on the goal line. Ville Leino turned over a loose puck to Marcus Johansson in the defensive zone. Johansson tried to beat Bobrovsky, but the puck dribbled right in front of the goal line. Knuble wasn't far behind, however, and he netted the goal as Bobrovsky remained out of position.
The Flyers remain the only NHL team without a shutout this season. It has been 288 days since their last regular season shutout, when they had a 2-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on 6 April 2010.
Just over a minute later, Alex Ovechkin struck after a defensive turnover by the Flyers. A scrum ensued in front of Bobrovsky, and once again he found himself out of position. The puck dribbled out to the left side of the net where Ovechkin was waiting to knock it in.
The goal was reviewed, and despite the fact that it seemed to have only touched Ovechkin's hand (which would have resulted in the goal being overturned), the goal stood.
The Flyers blew multiple-goal leads for the second time in as many games.
Washington continued to control the third period for several minutes until the Flyers took over once again. The Flyers had several chances to score in the waning minutes of the period, but they were unable to capitalize (pun intended). At the end of regulation, the teams remained knotted at two goals apiece.
Overtime was short-lived. Just over one minute into the period, Matt Carle fed a pass back to Andrej Meszaros along the right side. Meszaros fired a wrist shot past Varlamov, sealing the Flyers win.
The Flyers are currently 30-11-5. They are the first team with 30 wins this season, and with 65 points they currently sit atop the NHL's points standings. The Orange and Black take on the Ottawa Senators Thursday night at 7:00 from the Wells Fargo Center.