PHILADELPHIA – It started with a hit – or five – it was followed by a couple quick goals, some tenacious hits and a line brawl.
But it ended in unorthodox manner – with the Flyers, usually a strong third period team, looking a little discombobulated – but as nerve-wracking as the third period became the Flyers did enough to hold off the Capitals and win for their third straight 6-4 over the Washington Capitals.
Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek each scored twice while Michael Raffl scored another fourth line goal and Steve Downie potted an empty-netter for the Flyers who held onto second place in the Metropolitan Division with the win.
It wasn’t Steve Mason’s finest game, but with the exception of a goal by Alex Ovechkin on the power play that popped in and out of Mason’s glove, the other three tallies for Washington were all on crazy re-directs.
Nevertheless, the Flyers helped their goalie with some excellent offense. The pressure was relentless in the opening two periods as Giroux led the way, scoring on a nifty move off a nice play by Sean Couturier in the first period to strip the puck from Jack Hillen, and later in the second period making it 3-0 when he was given a gift off a turnover by Mike Green that he rocketed off of Braden Holtby’s shoulder and into the net for his 23rd goal of the season.
Raffl scored on a deflection moments later on a shot by Luke Schenn and that was all for Holtby who was replaced by Philip Grubauer.
Voracek also scored twice, once on a wrister from the high slot on a first period power play and the eventual game-winner on a give-and-go with Scott Hartnell.
Luke Schenn had one of his better games as a Flyer with a strong physical presence and picking up an assist on the Hall goal and it as his thumping hit on Ryan Stoa that triggered the first period line brawl.
It was kind of apropos that the brawl occurred on this night, the 10th anniversary of the 419-minute penalty-filled contest between the Flyers and Ottawa Senators, an NHL record.
Andrew MacDonald, who made his Flyers debut, picked up an assist on Raffl’s goal.
Steve Downie added an empty-netter to seal the win for the Flyers (33-24-6, 72 points) who now lead the third place New York Rangers by two points, fourth place Columbus by three points and fifth place Washington by four points in the always nip and tuck Metropolitan Division.
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