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POSTGAME 5: Capital Punishment

Giroux records 800th point as Flyers dominate Capitals with 7-2 win on Saturday night in DC

by Bill Meltzer @BillMeltzer

On a night where most of the pregame focus was on whether Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin would attain his 700th NHL goal, it was instead Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux who hit two milestones: 800 career points and 250 goals.

More important, the Flyers responded to an ugly home loss to New Jersey on Thursday with a resounding 7-2 road victory against the Capitals on Saturday night at Capital One Arena.

In the first period, power play goals by Sean Couturier and TJ Oshie canceled each other out. Early in the second frame, three closely spaced goals by Michael Raffl, Couturier, and James van Riemsdyk opened up a three-goal lead for the Flyers. Aube-Kubel, Konecny and Giroux blew the game wide open in the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a fluky late goal for Washington off a mostly blocked shot.

Brian Elliott stepped up when he needed to, earning the win with 25 saves on 27 shots. Braden Holtby went two-plus periods, stopping just 18 of 25 shots in 47:22 of work. Ilya Samsonov mopped up, stopping the only shot he faced. 

Three Stars:
1st: Sean Couturier (2g)
2nd: Claude Giroux (1g-2a)
3rd: Brian Elliott (25 of 27 saves)

Over a span of 1:45 early in the second period, the Flyers rapidly turned a 1-1 game into a 4-1 lead. First, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, fourteen seconds later, No. 14 struck for his second goal of the game and van Riemsdyk deflected a shot from the point by Niskanen all before five minutes passed in the period.Video: PHI@WSH: Couturier makes pretty move for second goal

1) The first period was a physical, hard-hitting frame (28 combined hits, 14 for each team). With the last line change, Washington coach Todd Reirden sent out Lars Eller's line early against Couturier's line, but later got them out a couple of times against rookie Morgan Frost's line. 

2) At Friday's practice, the Flyers used a PP1 unit that was relatively close personnel wise and structurally to the "classic" look of much of the the mid-to-late-2010s. Philly made quick work of its first power play of the game, controlling the draw and quickly getting set up. From the left circle, Couturier took a Giroux pass-out from behind the net and buried a quick shot past Holtby.

3) After the Flyers' early second-period goal explosion, they had to battle penalty trouble on one atrocious call (a phantom embellishment called against Couturier), one marginal one (Hayes for a mini-hook on Ovechkin), and one legitimate one (Travis Sanheim for slashing). Elliott made a 10-bell save on Richard Panik to erase a Sanheim turnover on the sequence leading to the Sanheim penalty. The Flyers' PK stepped up big in all three kills.Video: PHI@WSH: Aube-Kubel, Raffl connect for nice goal

4) Adding insult to injury, Aube-Kubel potted a Michal Kempny turnover, Konecny tipped up a nice setup by Giroux and the Flyers captain buried a one-timer on a 5-on-3 power play in the third period. In the meantime, the Capitals did nor register their first shot until midway through the stanza. Then, with nine minutes left, Aube-Kubel dropped the gloves with Brendan Leipsic to complete his first Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

* The Flyers scored seven goals in Washington for the first time since March 20, 1992 (7-6 W) and for just the fifth time ever.

* Claude Giroux recorded his 800th point in the NHL and his 250th goal with three points tonight (1g-2a).

Video: PHI@WSH: Giroux nets PPG for 800th NHL point* Sean Couturier had two goals, giving him 12 out of his 15 goals, and 31 of his 48 points, this season in games after the Flyers have suffered a loss.

* The Flyers are now 6-1-1 in their last eight games against teams in first or second place in their division.

* Nicolas Aube-Kubel recorded his first multi-point game AND a Gordie Howe Hat Trick of his career with a goal, an assist and a fight... He's the first Flyers rookie to accomplish the feat since Eric Lindros did it on March 25, 1993.

* Five Flyers recorded multi-point nights (Aube-Kubel, Couturier, Giroux, Konecny & Voracek).

* With his assist, Matt Niskanen has six points (2g-4a) in his last five games.

* The Flyers return home for a meeting with the Florida Panthers on Monday. Puck drop is 7 p.m. on NBCSP & 97.5 The Fanatic.
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