-- The Capitals wanted to win because the Flyers were in town. They wanted to win to extend their winning streak to five games and their lead in the Southeast Division to seven points. They wanted to win because, well, who wants to lose?
Perhaps, though, the biggest reason the Caps wanted two points out of Tuesday's nationally televised game was because it was the first of four over six days and getting off to a good start in their busiest week of the season was essential.
A 4-2 victory against Philadelphia has them off and running into a gauntlet of a schedule that includes a game in Atlanta on Thursday night, a trip back home Friday night for a game against the New York Islanders
and another home game Sunday afternoon against Columbus.
"We always have a thing that the first game of the week is most important. It's a baseball analogy, like winning the first game of a doubleheader," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau
said. "So especially in a big week like this, when it's the most games you play in one week in the season, it would be great against a good team to start off really well. It was well-earned, but I hope it didn't take too much out of us that we don't have anything left for the rest of the week."
Even with that minor concern, Boudreau isn't going lightly on his boys. He plans to have them on the ice in Arlington, Va., for practice Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's game against the Thrashers.
It's likely going to be short and light, but this is a team that can't wait to get to the rink and hit the ice these days, so we're pretty sure nobody is complaining about practice.
The Capitals, losers of four straight after starting the season with two-straight wins, have now won five in a row to improve to 7-2-2. They already are dominating the Southeast Division and in the last two games have shown their resiliency.
They fell behind 2-0 to the Islanders early in the third period Saturday, but came back to win 3-2 in overtime on goals from Mike Green
, Keith Aucoin
and Brooks Laich
Washington also trailed Philadelphia 2-0 late in the second Tuesday, but got goals from Alex Ovechkin
and Nicklas Backstrom
in a span of 2:04 to close the second locked in a 2-2 tie. Alexander Semin
scored the game-winner 5:24 into the third, and Ovechkin added an empty-netter in the game's final minute. The goal gives him a League-leading 11 in 11 games.
locked it down with 20 saves in the third, giving him 41 in the game, the most he's had as a Capital.
"Good teams have to win more than four and more than five," Ovechkin said bluntly.
The Caps should have a chance to do that. They're feeling good after a hard-fought win over the Flyers, and the Thrashers and Islanders are teams they already have beaten in the past week.
If they string together a few more wins in a row, the other four teams in the Southeast Division might start thinking about an early fight for second place.
"It's a good start to the week, and I think everybody feels that way," said Backstrom, who had 1 goal and 3 assists Tuesday. "It's good to have that behind us now when we move to Atlanta. We have four important games this week and this is a good start."
Contact Dan Rosen at email@example.com.