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Flyers overcome two-goal deficit, beat Capitals 4-2

by John Kreiser
Not even another highlight-reel goal by Alex Ovechkin was enough to save the Washington Capitals.

Ovechkin set up Nicklas Backstrom's early power-play goal and scored a spectacular unassisted goal 4:19 into the second to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. But the Flyers got one goal back in the second and scored three times in a 3:19 span of the third period to stun the Caps 4-2 on Tuesday night, quieting a sellout crowd at the Verizon Center.

The victory moved the Flyers six points clear of ninth-place Carolina in the Eastern Conference playoff race -- and the loss dropped Washington 10 points behind Boston at the top of the standings in the East.

"I saw we were only in the playoffs by four points I think, so it's a huge two points," Carter said. "It was a great effort by everybody, we really had the full team effort tonight.  It’s what we’re going to need there coming down the stretch."

The quick goals by Scott Hartnell, Carter and Arron Asham gave the Flyers their fourth consecutive road win. Before that, it looked like another good night for the Ovechkin Show -- something that hadn’t happened in the teams' two previous meetings this season.

The NHL's top goal-scorer showed he can also be a playmaker with a sensational feed that set up Backstrom's goal 1:48 into the game. He faked a shot, pulling the defense to him, then slipped a backhand pass to Backstrom, who was wide open and beat Antero Niittymaki with a backhander after getting the goaltender to go down. The assist was No. 8's first point against the Flyers this season.

The next goal was all Ovechkin.

He picked off a weak clearing attempt by Carter and, in an instant, zipped a wrist shot past Niittymaki from the slot while falling to the ice after a teammate bumped into him. It was his 44th goal of the season -- but his first in three games against the Flyers, who were the only Eastern Conference team that had kept him off the scoreboard this season. He celebrated by punching the air and kicking up a leg.

However, Philadelphia got back into the game at 9:22 when rookie Claude Giroux scored on a one-timer from the lower left circle with the Caps down two men.

Then the roof fell in for the Caps, largely thanks to the reunited line of Hartnell, Carter and Joffrey Lupul, who combined for two goals in 85 seconds to put Philadelphia in front.

The Flyers tied it 9:11 into the final period on Hartnell's 22nd goal, a wrist shot from the left circle off a 3-on-2 rush that beat Jose Theodore. Just 1:25 later, Carter's 35th goal, a quick wrist shot from in close that got up under the crossbar, put Philadelphia ahead for the first time.

The goal ended a five-game drought for Carter.

"He's got a great shot, a deceptive shot. He's always hanging around that net," Hartnell said. "He's been putting them in for us. He's been a big catalyst for us."

The quick goals made Flyers coach John Stevens look like a genius for putting the three forwards back together for the third period. Hartnell said the goals were just a matter of being unwilling to give in to frustration.

"We were getting snakebit a little bit," Hartnell said. "Theodore had a heck of a game the first two periods. It seemed like everything we threw at him he was stopping and hanging onto those rebounds. We were just able to keep on going, not giving up and we were able to get rewarded there at the end."

Asham put the final touch on the rally with his fifth goal, sweeping out of the left corner and across the crease before deking Theodore and whipping a forehand shot past him.

"I saw we were only in the playoffs by four points I think, so it's a huge two points. It was a great effort by everybody, we really had the full team effort tonight.  It’s what we’re going to need there coming down the stretch." -- Jeff Carter

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said his team played hard -- but not always smart.

"We got too involved with what they were doing, rather than what we have to do," said Boudreau, whose team has lost two of its past three games. "We played pretty hard for most of the night. We played pretty stupid a couple times."

Niittymaki, who got the start after Martin Biron was shaky in Saturday's 5-4 home loss to Pittsburgh, finished with 35 saves -- including stops on breakaways by Backstrom and Dave Steckel.

"We had some good chances, but we didn’t make the most of them tonight; that’s too bad," forward Boyd Gordon said. "It’s one of those things though where we didn’t make our breaks tonight, and they played a better game than we did."

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