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Flyers beat Capitals 3-2 in OT

by Dan Rosen /
PHILADELPHIA -- Call it the Flyers' answer to the fear of falling flat. Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette sequestered his team into a local hotel Tuesday afternoon in order to make their home game against Washington later that night feel like it was just another road affair.

The Flyers were coming off a stretch of playing nine of 10 on the road in the last 28 days. They won six of them, so Laviolette was just trying to keep a good thing going.

He might be on to something considering his team Tuesday night gave an effort he called one of their best in a long time.

Andrej Meszaros scored 67 seconds into overtime as the Flyers rebounded from blowing a two-goal lead in the third period to win 3-2 in overtime. They used the win to jump into into first place in the NHL. The Flyers and Vancouver Canucks both have 65 points in 46 games, but Philadelphia has 30 wins to the Canucks' 29. Vancouver lost 4-3 in overtime at Colorado later Tuesday night.

"I don't know the rationale or the reasoning behind it, but there is something to the fact that when you come off of road trips you come home, get settled in and you play a flat game," Laviolette said. "Maybe it's just to keep that road mentality, to keep guys away from home and the 'honey do list' that might be growing, getting longer. Especially against a team like Washington I really thought it was important. You have to keep winning. You don't want look back at a game like tonight and feel like you gave up two points because you were flat and you end up getting edged out by Pittsburgh. You've got to continue to win hockey games."

Meszaros smiled when he was asked about staying in a hotel. He said it's the first time the Flyers have done that this season, but he didn't mind it at all.

"It was quiet, had a nice nap and just went to the rink," he said. "Another day, another game."

Well, sort of.

It's not every day that Philadelphia blows a 2-0 lead in the third period, but it happened midway through the final 20 minutes when Mike Knuble and Alex Ovechkin scored 40 seconds apart.

The stumble didn't seem to phase the Flyers, who went right back to their game and continued to challenge Capitals goalie Semyon Varlamov, who relieved the injured Michal Neuvirth (day-to-day with a lower body injury) at the start of the second period.

Varlamov had almost no chance of stopping Meszaros' lightning quick wrister from the top of the right circle in overtime.

Matt Carle entered the zone with enough speed to draw two defenders to him, so he shoveled the puck over to a wide-open Meszaros, who took his time and got in tight enough to drive the shot past Varlamov's glove.

"I wanted to shoot, so I yelled at Matty to pass it to me," said Meszaros, who scored for only the second time this season. "I was just trying to hit the net."

When a team is able to come back like the Caps did Tuesday, they usually leave the building happy to have picked up at least a point.

Washington is different. The Caps are sick and tired of using the word "comeback."

"We've been saying it a lot," Matt Hendricks said.

Jeff Carter scored 91 seconds into the game and Claude Giroux made it 2-0 with 6:22 to play in the second period. Washington has now given up the first goal in 17 of its last 22 games and, not surprisingly, is 8-8-6 over the stretch.

"You'd like to be able to think it's going to start earlier, but what are you going to do?" Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We're going to keep trying. It's not like we're stopping trying, but it's frustrating for everybody. Unless you've been out there you don't know how tough it is sometimes."

Philadelphia made it tough with its near-flawless game -- save for those 40 seconds in the third period.

For the first time this season the Flyers did not have to kill a penalty; their lone penalty of the game was a five-minute fighting major Jody Shelley picked up 2:45 into the game for dropping the mitts with D.J. King.

"When you play a team like Washington you're either going to skate with them or you're going to be reaching and that's when the penalties creep in, the hooking and holding," Laviolette said. "I thought our guys really had their legs under them tonight. They competed very well, the best we have in a long time."

Braydon Coburn's powerful stride and long reach made it especially tough on Ovechkin to get any space off the rush. Ovechkin did not have a shot on goal in 14 shifts in the first 40 minutes and he scored his goal off what appeared to be a busted play.

"Coby is such a good skating defenseman, he moves so well and I think you really need that when you're playing a guy like Alex," Laviolette said. "He moves so quick and he's so powerful that you have to have somebody equally as powerful with their strides. Coby did a great job of gapping up on him, playing him tight and not giving up a whole lot of room."

The Capitals didn't do much to help themselves until the third period, when they realized that going to the net and scrapping for the dirty goals is to best way to score against the Flyers (or any team in the NHL).

Knuble scored from the low slot, cleaning up the loose change left after Marcus Johansson's power drive down the middle resulted in a shot off the post. Ovechkin also scored from the slot after he gloved down a crossing pass from Nicklas Backstrom.

"After every game we say if we score one goal ugly we will think, 'OK, this is it. It's time to get going,' " an emotional Ovechkin said. "It has to be every game, working hard. All the guys in this room understand if we work hard and if we use our skill nobody can stop us. In the second period we had probably four or six shots on net (8 on the scoresheet). That's not our game. We have to go to the net, find the rebound, crash the net, make some hits and be angrier."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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