Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Flyers scored eight unanswered goals, including two each by Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne and Jon Sim as they cruised to an 8-1 victory over the Washington Capitals at the Wachovia Center.
Also registering multi-point nights on the evening were Mike Knuble (1g, 2a); Peter Forsberg (1g, 2a); Mike Rathje (3a) and Joni Pitkanen (3a).
The Flyers won their fifth straight home game.
"I think we're just building. The reason I think we played like we did today was that we are starting to gain an identity and a lot of confidence," said Ken Hitchcock. "The game against Ottawa has really moved our level up another notch, and probably the third period in Carolina gave us a sense of urgency in what we had to do to get better. We're starting to build. Our team is starting to gel, hopefully."
Gagne also sees the team turning a corner after the win in Ottawa last Sunday.
"It was a big challenge in front of us, especially when you lose your captain and some guys have to step up," he said. "You saw that different guys had a big game in Ottawa and that's huge because Ottawa may be the hottest team in the league. And beating them in Ottawa was a huge two points for us."
After the Capitals' Chris Clark and Sim traded goals, Carter scored twice before the end of the first period to give Philadelphia a two-goal cushion.
First, he gave Philadelphia its first lead at 12:31 when he threw the puck on net from the blue line and charged in for the rebound. Goaltender Brent Johnson attempted a diving poke at the puck but Carter got there first and tipped it over the fallen netminder.
An impressive shorthanded goal at 19:37 gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead at the break. Carter stripped rookie sensation Alex Ovechkin, skated the puck along the boards and around defensemen Jamie Heward and Steve Eminger and made a move on Johnson to get the goaltender on his back before firing it into a wide open net.
It was Philadelphia's fifth shorthanded goal this season, leading the league.
"In the last four or five games, I feel like I've come around," said Carter. "I feel a lot stronger, [have] more confidence and things are starting to go my way."
"We saw a couple of weeks ago he's getting up to speed in practice," said Hitchcock of Carter. "He's able to sustain competitive endurance drills. When you know you can sustain the level of endurance on the ice when you're competing, then you get confidence."
The Flyers kept piling on the offense in the second period. Gagne attempted a pass to Knuble, but the puck bounced off of the skate of Jeff Halpern and inside the post at 1:22 for his 11th goal of the season.
Knuble found the rebound of a blast by Rathje at 7:34 to make it 5-1, and Gagne's second goal of the game at 12:24 on the power play made it 6-1.
Forsberg added the extra point to make it 7-1, when he skated the puck untouched through the offensive zone and calmly lifted a shot over the right shoulder of Johnson into the top corner of the net with 12 seconds left in the period.
Forsberg entered the game tied for the league lead in assists and now has 19 on the year.
Sim's one-timer from the slot on a great feed from Pitkanen in the corner at 8:56 of the third period capped the scoring.
Robert Esche registered his third straight win in net making 29 saves. Philadelphia outshot the Capitals for the game, 43-30.
The game did bring a bit of bad news, as Eric Desjardins left the game early after taking a blow to the head and will be reevaluated on Friday.
The Flyers continue their longest homestand of the season when they host the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.
FLYERS NOTES Kim Johnsson missed the game due to a left groin strain suffered in Ottawa last Sunday. The Flyers have allowed exactly one first period goal in each of their 11 games this season. Sim now has a three-game goal-scoring streak and five total over that span. Knuble also has a three-game goal-scoring streak, with four total over that span. The Capitals haven't won in Philadelphia since 1998, going 0-14-1. Rathje was a +6 on the night, while his partner Pitkanen was a +5. The Flyers finished 2-for-8 on the power play, and killed off all five of Washington's opportunities.