Washington D.C. – Brian Willsie and Matt Pettinger scored in a shootout as the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at the MCI Center, 4-3.
Despite the loss, the Flyers extended their streak of getting points on the road, and are 9-0-2 in their last 11 games away from home. Washington ended Philadelphia's winning streak at five games as well as its road winning streak at six games. The Flyers are now 4-0-1 on their 11-game road trip.
After Pettinger scored on Washington's first attempt, Peter Forsberg and Alexander Ovechkin both failed on their chances. Mike Richards tied the shootout as Philadelphia's third shooter, but Willsie converted on Antero Niittymaki to give Washington the win.
"The shootout can go either way, and it's kind of like tossing a coin," said Sami Kapanen, who increased his goal-scoring streak to three games. "We'll take the point and move on."
Even with the point, Ken Hitchcock was not pleased with his team's effort.
"This was as dead as we've been in a month," said Hitchcock. "I don't remember us playing this poorly. We had no work ethic, and their workers controlled the hockey game."
The game was a seesaw battle throughout. With the game tied 2-2 entering the third period, Jeff Carter tipped in a pass from Michal Handzus at 2:57 to give the Flyers a brief lead.
Washington tied the game when Willsie, skating hard towards the net, knocked in the Dainus Zubrus' rebound while falling to the ice at 8:54, which is where the game remained through overtime.
"They came after us a little harder than we came after them," said Forsberg. "They played 60 minutes better than we did. It came down to the shootout, but overall I thought they worked harder than we did. It's tough to win games when you're not outworking the other team."
Philadelphia, which has not lost in regulation on the road since November 14 in Tampa Bay, will continue its trip in Boston at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, January 2.
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead on their first power play goal in four games. Forsberg took a feed from Kapanen in the slot, patiently waited for goaltender Olie Kolzig to go down, and lifted a shot into the open net at 14:19 for his 13th goal of the season. Philadelphia was a combined 0-for-15 in its last three games.
Forsberg played without his usual linemate, NHL goal leader Simon Gagne, who was the latest Flyer to be stricken with the flu bug that is seemingly making its way through the team. R.J. Umberger and Brian Savage both saw time on the line with Forsberg and Mike Knuble.
A great effort by NHL rookie scoring leader Ovechkin tied the game in the second period. Ovechkin faked a shot with Kim Johnsson in front of him, made a nifty move around the Flyers defenseman, took the shot on net and got his own rebound at 7:38.
On the ensuing faceoff, Forsberg and the Capitals' Brian Sutherby got into a pushing match that ended with Sutherby slashing Forsberg. Sutherby picked up the extra minor to give the Flyers the man advantage but they failed to convert.
The Flyers finished 2-for-8 on the power play while Washington was 1-for-8.
Ovechkin assisted on a goal by Zubrus' that gave Washington the lead at 11:21, when Dennis Seidenberg turned the puck over on a clearing attempt. The puck went right to the stick of Ovechkin before he sent a cross-ice pass to Zubrus for a one-timer into the open net past a diving Niittymaki.
Kapanen's third goal in as many games tied it before the intermission, when Washington defenseman Mathieu Biron lost the puck at the Flyers' blue line and Kapanen picked it up and raced in for a breakaway goal at 15:08.
The Flyers now have nine shorthanded goals this season, second in the league only to Ottawa's eleven.
Philadelphia surrendered a season-high 46 shots on goal.
"Our goaltender was outstanding," said Hitchcock. "When you go on the road and allow almost 50 shots on goal, it's not good."
FLYERS NOTES This was the second of four meetings between the Flyers and Capitals this season. Philadelphia won the first, 8-1, at the Wachovia Center on November 3. The teams meet again on January 6 in Washington and February 10 in Philadelphia. … Kapanen recorded his fourth multiple-point game of the season. … Mike Rathje was cut in the face by a high stick from Zubrus in the second period and returned midway through the third. … The game was the Flyers' fourth straight to go into overtime, the first time that has happened since December, 1991.