For the third straight game, the Capitals didn't play as well as they're capable of playing, but played well enough to win. This time though, the Caps actually did win. With a bit of a boost from an early mulligan, the Caps halted a two-game hiccup (0-1-1) with a 4-1 win over the faltering Flyers in Philadelphia.
A mere 23 seconds after opening puck drop, the Caps appeared to surrender the game's first goal for the third time in as many games. But for the second time in as many games, Washington's video review tandem urged a successful coach's challenge of a first-period goal against, this time alleging that Flyers forward Dale Weise was guilty of interfering with Caps goalie Braden Holtby just before Jakub Voracek scored.
Video: Caps players talk after 4-1 #CapsFlyers win
"Good hard-fought game," says Caps right wing T.J. Oshie. "Good job by the video guys there at the start. From there, I think we improved each period and put it away."
Although the Flyers had more scoring chances than the Caps would have liked in the first half of the game, Washington scored twice in the first and carried a two-goal cushion into both intermissions. In each of their previous two games - their first two games back after their bye week - the Caps never owned a lead at any point in the contest.
Washington gave the Flyers next to nothing in the third period, icing the game on a late goal from Oshie and dealing a harsh blow to the frustrated Flyers' playoff hopes.
"It's real important especially for your confidence," says Caps center Nicklas Backstrom of Wednesday's win. "We lost two in a row and that's something we don't like so it was important for our confidence and our whole team that we get a win and hopefully we can build off this."
Video: WSH@PHI: Kuznetsov buries PPG off scorched wrister
The 400 Club - Caps right wing Justin Williams earned the secondary assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov's power-play goal late in the first period, the first of two Kuznetsov tallies on the night and a goal that doubled Washington's lead to 2-0. With that helper, Williams reached the 400-assist level for his NHL career. He added No. 401 later in the evening, supplying the primary assist on Kuznetsov's second goal of the game late in the second period.
The 500 Club - Caps center Lars Eller skated in the 500th game of his NHL career on Wednesday against the Flyers. Eller made his NHL debut with the St. Louis Blues in a Nov. 5, 2009 game against the Calgary Flames.
"It's pretty cool," Eller said, on the morning of game No. 500. "I knew I was around that number; a couple of weeks ago somebody mentioned it to me and then [Tuesday] my dad texted me that it was No. 500. I wasn't really aware it was [Wednesday] until then.
"It's pretty cool. Five hundred is a lot to look back at later on, but also right now. It's a lot of games, a lot of years and a lot of experiences. It's been a fun ride and I hope to continue to keep it going."
Eller becomes the 10th Caps player on the team's current roster to reach that level. Marcus Johansson has a chance to become the 11th later this season.
Video: Kuznetsov, Backstrom propel Caps past Flyers, 4-1
Thirty - Holtby earned his 30th victory of the season on Wednesday against the Flyers, reaching that level for the third straight season. Holtby is coming off consecutive 40-win seasons, and he is vying to become just the third netminder in NHL history to string together three straight seasons with 40 or more victories
New Jersey's Martin Brodeur and San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov are the only two who've managed that achievement thus far in the league's history.
Forty - Wednesday night's win in Philly was Washington's 40th victory of the season, making the Caps the first team in the league to reach that plateau this season. The Caps reached that level in their 59th game of the season, becoming the third quickest team in franchise history to reach 40 victories.
Last year's Caps team became the fastest team in league history to reach the 40-win plateau, doing so in its 53rd game of the season. The 2009-10 Capitals reached 40 in their 58th game of the season.
Man Down - The Caps lost defenseman Matt Niskanen to a lower body injury early in the second period. Niskanen hobbled off the ice and went to the Washington room in the immediate aftermath of the injury. Late in the second period, he returned briefly and even took one more shift before the Caps opted to have him retire for the remainder of the contest.
"He'll just be evaluated," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "I don't think it is too serious; lower body obviously. We'll just look at him [Thursday]. He was first evaluated by the trainers it was more precautionary. We'll get the doctors to look at that and we'll see where we are [Thursday]."
Video: Coach Trotz on Wednesday's victory over the Flyers
Fading Philly - Since their 10-game winning streak ended in mid-December, the Flyers have won only nine of 28 games (9-15-4). Philadelphia has not scored more than three goals in any of its last 16 contests, and the Flyers have managed just 17 even-strength goals in those last 16 games.
To score a goal on the game's first shift only to have it wiped away had to be a blow for a team that's been scuffling to score the way the Flyers have of late.
"Winning and losing is so thin in this league and when you're playing a team like that who just has loads of offensive talent, you give them one, two opportunities and they score on it," laments Weise. "For a team like us that doesn't score very often that's tough.
"We are playing behind the eight ball every night. It's frustrating. I'm not going to lie and say it's not in our head when we get down because you can see the way we play. We're gripping the sticks. I really liked our effort though. I thought we played hard the whole night. Full marks to our team but it's just kind of the same story every night."
By The Numbers - John Carlson led the Capitals with 27:37 in ice time, five shots on net, and nine shot attempts … Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov paced Washington with five hits each … Karl Alzner blocked five shots and logged 25:40 on the night, including a team-high figure of 23:23 at even strength … Washington won only 22 of 65 face-offs on the night (34%).