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POSTGAME NOTEBOOK: Caps 5, Flyers 3

Vrana and Copley come up big for Caps in win over Philly, Oshie nets No. 200, Boyd scores first power-play point, more

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / washingtoncaps.com

Tuesday's victory was Washington's sixth straight against Eastern Conference opponents, and the Caps are 15-1-0 in their last 16 games against Eastern foes. Their lone loss during that span was a 2-1 setback to Pittsburgh in the District on Dec. 19.

On the season, the Caps are now 18-5-2 against Eastern opposition, and they are 9-3-1 against their fellow denizens of the Metropolitan Division.

Flying V - Vrana is typically the last player or one of the last players off the ice on practice days and morning skates. He works tirelessly on his shot and his game, and that work has been paying dividends this season.

After scoring 10 goals in his first 33 games last season, Vrana went through a 25-game midseason goalless drought before potting three in his final 15 contests of the campaign. A speed merchant with good hands as well, Vrana reached a career high with his second goal on Tuesday, his 14th of the season in 42 games.

Among the Caps, only Alex Ovechkin (30) has more goals than Vrana this season.

Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | January 8

"He continues to grow and improve, and his speed is such a factor," says Caps coach Todd Reirden of Vrana. "Finding ways to use his speed is important, and he was really able to be a factor tonight by taking away time and space and forcing turnovers. He had a couple of chances to get his third there, which would have been exciting for a young player, but it was a real strong game from him."

Sawbuck - For the seventh time in as many starts, Caps goalie Pheonix Copley helped his team earn at least a point, making a career high 37 saves to improve to 10-2-2 on the season and 6-0-1 in his last seven starts, with a 2.10 GAA and a .933 save pct. in those last seven outings. Since starting the season at 0-1-1 in his first two appearances, Copley is 10-1-1.

Video: PHI@WSH: Copley denies Voracek and Simmonds

When the Caps were 42 games into last season, Philipp Grubauer had two victories (2-5-3). Grubauer was frequently a victim of non-support early in the season, and he forged a splendid 13-5-0 mark the rest of the way, and was the Caps' starter for the first two games of their first-round playoff series against Columbus.

Last June, Washington traded Grubauer to Colorado to gain some salary cap relief, leaving the 26-year-old Copley as the heir apparent as the Caps' second goaltender in support of Braden Holtby. Grubauer signed a well-deserved three-year contract with the Avs for an annual salary cap hit of $3.33 million. Copley, who will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, may find himself similarly in demand this summer. Copley's 2018-19 salary cap hit of $650,000 is a fraction of Grubuaer's, but he has one more win than the Colorado goaltender in five fewer starts.

"He has earned it, absolutely earned it," says Reirden. "Every player on our team would tell you that. Our goalie coach, our rest of our coaching staff will tell you that this guy has put his work in and deserves everything that has come his way. You love coaching those types of players, and he has been outstanding in that regard."

Seconds Of Pleasure - Washington used a three-goal outburst in the second period of Tuesday's game to snap a 1-1 tie, and it carried a 4-1 advantage into the third before the Flyers rallied for a couple of goals in the final four minutes.

The Capitals lead the NHL with 61 second-period goals, and they've allowed 41 goals in the middle frame to rank tied for eighth in that department. Washington's plus-20 goal differential in the second period is second in the circuit to Tampa Bay (plus-29).

"It is important for us and something we've got to continue to add in the first and in the third [periods] is when we play with that type of speed," says Reirden, "and what I mean by that, I'm not talking about players just skating fast. It's the puck movement, it's under-handling, delivering to speed, and really establishing speed through the middle of the ice, and that really backs off the opposition. I like that part of our game."

With 38 goals in the second period this season, Philadelphia is tied for 26th in the league. The Flyers have yielded 57 goals in the third period, the third highest total in the league, and their minus-19 differential is the league's second worst, ahead of only Detroit (minus-20).

Two Hundo - T.J. Oshie scored a pair of goals in Tuesday's game, deflecting a Lars Eller shot through Flyers goalie Mike McKenna in the second period and sailing a 100-footer into an empty Philly net with 2.1 seconds remaining. The second of those goals was the 200th goal of Oshie's NHL career, and it came in his 696th game in the league.

Video: PHI@WSH: Oshie pots 200th career goal

Since he came to DC at the start of the 2015-16 season, Oshie has scored 90 goals in 253 games to rank second on the team over that span; Alex Ovechkin has 162 goals to lead the Capitals over that same span.

Among all players chosen in the 2005 NHL Draft, Oshie ranks seventh in career goals behind Sidney Crosby (431), Anze Kopitar (301), James Neal (267), Bobby Ryan (241), Paul Stastny (225) and Patric Hornqvist (218).

Power Move - Travis Boyd assisted on Vrana's power-play goal, picking up the first power-play point of his NHL career in the process. Overall, Boyd now has four goals and seven points in his last dozen games.

By The Numbers - John Carlson led the Caps with 24:20 in ice time … Ovechkin led the Caps with five shots on net and nine shot attempts … Five different caps skaters had two hits to tie for the team lead … Carlson and Matt Niskanen each had three blocked shots to pace Washington … The Caps were drubbed in the face-off circle, winning only 19 of 64 draws (30 percent) on the night. Boyd won two of 13 (15 percent) and Evgeny Kuznetsov won 1 of 14 (seven percent). On the season, Philadelphia leads the NHL with a remarkable 56.8 percent face-off winning rate, while the Caps are dragging up the rear in that regard, at 46.5 percent. Also of note, the Caps lead the Metropolitan Division standings while Philly occupies the cellar of the division.

Video: Oshie, Vrana each score twice in Capitals' 5-3 win

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