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Flyers Defeat Washington, 5-4

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
Philadelphia, PA – Philadelphia scored four unanswered goals in the second period, including three on the power play, and then held on to defeat the Washington Capitals at the Wachovia Center on Friday night, 5-4.

Trailing 2-1 after 20 minutes, Donald Brashear tied the game at 1:43 skating around Bryan Muir and lifting the puck over goaltender Brent Johnson for his second goal of the season and first since October 22 at Toronto.

Washington went on a 1:38 two-man advantage shortly after the Brashear goal, but the Flyers killed it off thanks to the penalty-killing of Michal Handzus, Derian Hatcher and Eric Desjardins. Philadelphia went on a power play of its own just after that when Washington was caught with too many men on the ice. A slap shot from the point by Sami Kapanen through traffic found the back of the net at 5:03 to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead.

Another power play goal came with Dainius Zubrus in the box after a blatant cheap shot on Handzus, checking him into the boards well after the puck was away. On the goal, Freddy Meyer found Brian Savage alone at the side of the net for an easy goal at 10:51.

The game was a chippy one from the start, including two fights in the first period. In the second period, there was a scrum after Joni Pitkanen and Jeff Friesen pushed and shoved a bit, with Turner Stevenson flying in to protect the Flyers' second-year defenseman. After it was broken up, the Flyers were awarded the power play and Savage got his second of the period at 12:46 deflecting a point shot by Desjardins.

"I think our power play played really well, especially in the second period when we needed some big goals," said Savage.

Pitkanen was a target of the Capitals for much of the night, including after the final horn when the teams convened once again along the boards.

"He doesn't mind that stuff, he's been through it before," said Ken Hitchcock. "I thought the more he got hit, the better he played."

Washington did not go away easily, however. Alex Ovechkin ripped a one-timer on the power play in the second period and Zubrus tallied with the man advantage in the third period, but Robert Esche stopped Pettinger in the crease with his left pad as the Capitals' forward whacked away at the puck.

The Capitals outshot the Flyers 18-5 in the third, but Esche made sure the lead stood up with 39 saves on the night.

"He was our best player. In my opinion, he was the reason we got those two points," said Hitchcock. "It was a good feeling for us watching the way he played."

"We know that there's some tremendous leadership in this locker room," said Esche. "We know that we're getting a lot of guys back after the Olympics, which is going to help us even more."

Philadelphia finished 3-0-1 in four games against the Capitals, who are in last place in the Southeast Division. The Flyers remain a point behind New York for first place in the Atlantic Division, as the Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2. The Flyers play in their final game before the Olympic break on Saturday in Ottawa (7:00 p.m., CSN).

"It has been tough to win lately; we have not had one game where the entire team has been healthy," said Simon Gagne, who will represent Canada in the Olympics. "This is a chance to get some guys rest and get a few guys back after the break."

Philadelphia opened the scoring but Washington tallied twice in the first period to take the lead.

Gagne's 36th of the season just over five minutes into the game made it 1-0, after Randy Jones kept the puck alive in the zone, tipping it to Mike Knuble who then dropped it to Gagne for a quick slap shot at the top of the circle.

Washington's Brian Sutherby was left alone at the side of the net and tipped in a pass from Boyd Kane at 9:36. The Capitals took the lead shortly after that on the power play after a hooking call to R.J. Umberger. Pitkanen couldn't control a loose puck and it bounced to Brooks Laich, who found Brian Willsie for a wrist shot that beat Esche at 10:52.

Philadelphia improved to 55-24-6-0 all-time against Washington at home. … The Flyers have not lost to Washington at home since January 31, 1998. … Gagne returned to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday's game with the flu. … Handzus left the game in the second period after the hit by Zubrus, but returned later in the period.
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