(Washington, D.C., January 9) – Alex Ovechkin had two goals and an assist in leading the Washington Capitals to a 6-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.
The Capitals led 2-0 after the first period, and increased that to 4-0 by the end of the second.
Their penalty-killing unit played a key role, as Philadelphia had a golden opportunity to get back into the game with one minute and 23 seconds of time with a two-man advantage following penalties to Ben Clymer and Steve Eminger. A backhand attempt by Jeff Carter towards an open net hit the post, and Simon Gagne's attempt to poke in a rebound off of the back boards was sticked away by goaltender Olie Kolzig.
"If we got a goal there it would have changed the complexion of the game, but we did think we were mounting an attack there," said John Stevens. "In that situation, unfortunately it didn't go in the net."
A breakaway save on Alexander Semin by Robert Esche with about four minutes left in the second period kept it 2-0, but the Capitals managed two more goals before the horn. Ovechkin tallied his second of the night on the rebound of a shot by Chris Clark with 3:15 remaining to make it 3-0.
Then, former Flyer Donald Brashear shot the puck from the faceoff circle and it bounced over Esche's shoulder. The Flyers goaltender caught it behind him, but a video review showed that the puck crossed the line while Esche was drifting back into the net just 17 seconds after Ovechkin's goal. It was Brashear's first of the season and first as a Capital.
A power play goal by Semin at 3:09 of the third period made it 5-0, before Kyle Calder scored twice. First, Calder lifted one in on the power play at 8:47, and later cut to the net to redirect a pass from R.J. Umberger at 12:32 with Philadelphia shorthanded.
"I'm certainly encouraged the fact that we kept playing and tried to mount a comeback," said Stevens. "I know it was a long shot at that point, but we certainly saw a lot better things tonight than we saw in the last game against Ottawa."
"We got behind the eight ball and it would have been nice getting those goals at the beginning of the game and get off to a good start," said Calder.
Brian Sutherby's bad-angle goal at 18:50 capped the scoring.
Despite the final score, the team felt the game was a much better effort than the previous one it played in Ottawa – a 6-1 loss on Sunday.
"Personally I thought we played a lot better," said Stevens. "I thought we were more aggressive on our forecheck, I thought we mounted an attack for the first time coming out of the Ottawa game, and it's just unfortunate that we chased the game again."
"I actually felt we play a [much] better game tonight. The result wasn't there, that's for sure, but to me I felt we played a better game tonight," repeated Hatcher.
Philadelphia finished its season-high eight game road trip with a 3-5 record, losing the final four games after a season-high three-game winning streak. This was the fourth and final game this year between the Capitals and Flyers, as Washington swept the season series for the first time in team history.
Washington wasted little time in jumping out to a lead it would not relinquish. Clymer's wrist shot just 15 seconds after the opening faceoff went off of Esche's glove before slowing rolling on its side across the goal line on a shot the goaltender would probably like to have back.
"I've been working on trying to catch pucks like that so I can stickhandle more, but I should have just taken it in my stomach like I normally do," said Esche. "I let my thinking get in the way of what I'm actually supposed to do out there."
Ovechkin's first of the game came at 6:36, when he received a nice backhanded pass from Dainius Zubrus, wheeled around and fired the puck past the short side of Esche.
Washington's sophomore sensation finished with six goals and five assists for 11 points in four games against Philadelphia this season.
Kolzig ended the night with 31 saves to record the win while Esche allowed six goals on 31 Capitals shots.
The Flyers return home on Thursday, when they host the Montreal Canadiens (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 610 WIP). Eric Desjardins will be honored by the team in a pregame ceremony prior to faceoff.
FLYERS NOTES Philadelphia was 1-for-6 on the power play while Washington was 1-for-3. … Defenseman Jussi Timonen was recalled before the game, as Joni Pitkanen sat out with the flu. … Peter Forsberg missed his fourth straight game with a mild right groin strain. … Mike Richards and Geoff Sanderson remain out with sports hernias, but both skated earlier in the day. … Philadelphia fell to 35-34-13-2 all-time in Washington.