Five was the number on Sunday in the Caps-Flyers matinee match at Verizon Center. There were just five shots on net for the Caps in the first, and five more in the second. But in a span of exactly five minutes early in the third period, the Caps scored four times - on five shots - to open up a 5-0 lead on the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Caps won by that 5-0 count, nailing down their ninth consecutive victory, and matching the team's longest streak since it won a franchise record 14 straight games in 2009-10.
"I don't think the score was totally indicative of how the game was played," says Caps right wing Justin Williams. "I certainly thought we outplayed Chicago [in a 6-0 win on Friday] and deserved to win that [game] by a decent margin. This one just kind of snowballed into a bad thing for [the Flyers]. We scored a bunch of goals in a few minutes, and all of a sudden it looks lopsided."
Zeroed In - Washington didn't have much going on offensively in the first 40 minutes of Sunday's game, but Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer took care of business during that stretch, particularly in the first period.
Grubauer made 24 saves on the afternoon to earn his second shutout of the season and the second of his NHL career, but 13 of those stops came in the opening period and four came in a span of eight seconds in the third minute of the contest.
Video: Grubauer earns Sunday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout
Despite starting for the first time in 15 days and playing for the first time in 12 days, Grubauer was typically excellent, and he kept the Flyers at bay until his teammates could get their legs under them. That gradual process began in the middle period, when the Caps took a 1-0 lead on Andre Burakovsky's unassisted power-play goal and limited the Flyers to just one even-strength shot on goal.
"Obviously it helps seeing the puck there in the first couple of seconds to get into the game," says Grubauer. "It's been a while since I played. The guys kept it to the outside and I dint think we gave up too many scoring chances in the first, so that was good."
Grubauer has been a good bit better than good for Washington this season. He is 8-1-1 with two shutouts, a 1.74 GAA and a .935 save pct. this season. With his shutout over the Flyers on Sunday, the Caps have now authored four shutouts in a span of six games for the first time in franchise history.
Video: Backstrom receives a Golden Stick for 500 assists
Center Of Attention - Prior to Sunday's game, the Caps conducted a ceremony to honor center Nicklas Backstrom for achieving the milestone of 500 career assists a week earlier in Ottawa.
Backstrom's family was on the ice with him during the ceremony, and he was presented with a gold stick engraved with his achievements and milestones and a message from the organization.
"It was nice," says Backstrom. "I would like to thank the organization; it was really nice of them. I've been here for 10 years now, and it's gone by quick. It was awesome to get a little appreciation there from the organization."
Backstrom recorded a pair of assists in Sunday's game, pushing his scoring streak to six straight games (three goals, nine assists).
On Monday, Backstrom was named the NHL's first star for the week ending Jan. 15. He had seven assists and 10 points in four games last week as Washington won all four of those games.
Video: PHI@WSH: Williams, Niskanen each score twice in 3rd
Home Cooking - The Caps have won six straight home games and are now 10-1-1 in their last dozen games at Verizon Center. Washington has surrendered a grand total of 11 goals in its last 10 home games. Five of those goals against came in a single game (vs. Toronto on Jan. 3) and the Caps have spun five shutouts in their last 10 home games.
Multiple Men - Williams and Matt Niskanen scored two goals each during that five-minute goal scoring frenzy early in the third period. For both players, it was their second multiple-goal game of the season.
Washington has had 19 multiple goals games this season, and 10 different players have scored two or more goals in the same game. Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson lead the way with three multiple-goal games each.
Man Down - Caps defenseman John Carlson left in the first period of Sunday's game with the Flyers and he did not return. According to the team, Carlson has a lower body injury and is day-to-day. He logged 6:38 in ice time spread over nine shifts before departing.
Low Flyers - With their bye week now on the immediate horizon, the Flyers slim hold on the Eastern Conference's final playoff berth becomes even more tenuous. Philadelphia leads Carolina by a single point, and the Hurricanes have three games in hand. Philly is only two points clear of both Ottawa and Florida, and the Sens have five games in hand and the Panthers one on the Flyers.
"We haven't been playing the greatest lately," says Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, "and maybe we can take this time to clear our minds and comeback ready to go with a little bit of pep in our step and maybe a little bit more focused."
Since its 10-game winning streak was halted in mid-December, Philadelphia has won only three of 14 games (3-8-3). Two of those three victories came in the shootout.
"We have a five-day break right now, so obviously everybody's going to be away for the next five days, until we come back for a late afternoon practice on Friday," says Flyers coach Dave Hakstol. "So everybody's got to take the next five days here, get away from it, clear their minds and come back ready to pull together at four o'clock on Friday afternoon.
"I think everybody has the realization of where we're at. I don't think we need that wake-up call; that's reality. I don't talk about it a whole lot; I don't think I need to talk about it. Everybody knows the reality and the competitiveness of the playoff situation. I don't think that's lost on anybody."
Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears dropped a 4-2 decision to the Binghamton Senators on Sunday at Giant Center.
Both Hershey goals came on the power play in Sunday's game. Jakub Vrana netted his 11th of the season with help from Christian Thomas and Aaron Ness in the second period and Chris Bourque notched his ninth with a single assist to Christian Djoos in the third.
Vitek Vanecek surrendered four goals on 21 shots in a losing effort, dropping to 9-7-5 on the season.
By The Numbers - Niskanen led Washington with 25:26 in ice time, and also led the team with five shots on net and 10 shot attempts … Ovechkin led the Caps with seven hits … Dmitry Orlov led the Capitals with five blocked shots … Evgeny Kuznetsov won five of seven face-offs (71%).