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Flyers use power play to defeat Capitals

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers' power play had been as inconsistent as the rest of the offense during the first half of the season. But on Tuesday, it was the difference in a 5-2 win against the Washington Capitals.

Jakub Voracek had two goals, and Matt Read had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who earned a split of a home-and-home set. Washington won 5-4 in a shootout Sunday at Verizon Center.

Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who allowed four goals on 33 shots in the loss Sunday, made 24 saves Tuesday to win for the second time in six games.

Alex Ovechkin and Eric Fehr scored for the Capitals. Braden Holtby, back in net after serving as the backup to rookie Philipp Grubauer the previous two games, allowed five goals on 35 shots.

The game turned late in the second period when Washington forward Tom Wilson was assessed a five-minute major for charging after a hit from behind on the Flyers' Brayden Schenn that sent the Philadelphia center face-first into the boards. Wilson also received a five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct at 15:17.

Schenn needed help leaving the ice and did not return to the game due to an upper-body injury.

The Flyers scored twice in 1:12 on the power play to break a 2-2 tie.

"If you have a five-minute power play and you don't take advantage of it after something like that happens in a close hockey game, it's a wasted opportunity, and the boys didn't let that happen," Mason said.

Defenseman Mark Streit started the run when his long shot from the right point went through a screen and got past Holtby at 17:04 of the second.

Voracek scored his second of the game when he took a pass from defenseman Kimmo Timonen in the right circle, cut to the middle of the ice and sent a low shot through a Wayne Simmonds screen past Holtby at 18:16 to make it 4-2.

The Flyers were 17th in the NHL on the power play but 28th in the League at home at 9.8 percent.

"I think on the road we were clicking a little bit," captain Claude Giroux said. "To finally get a couple of power-play goals in front of our fans is good. Usually they're pretty tough on us on the power play, so it's good to get a couple.

"Anytime you get a five-minute power play you have to make sure you get at least one goal. Our two power-play [units] are playing pretty good right now. It doesn't matter who's on the ice, we just have to make sure we capitalize on it."

Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said the extended penalty kill, which included the first 17 seconds of the third period, was taxing on him and his teammates.

"We were trying as much as we could to limit their opportunities, but they have a really good unit out there," he said. "Anytime you give them five minutes they're going to get one; [Tuesday] they got two. As you can see by the score, it was obviously the difference in this game."

Philadelphia added a goal in the third when Simmonds took advantage of a mistake by Capitals defenseman John Carlson, who let a Scott Hartnell pass go through his skates. Simmonds stepped around him, pulled the puck away from Holtby on a poke-check, and scored his sixth of the season at 7:29.

Philadelphia held a three-goal, third-period lead against Washington for the second straight game. The Flyers were up 4-1 with 8:40 left Sunday but managed to give that away.

"We stopped making plays [Sunday]," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "We made plays [Tuesday]. That's the difference."

After a scoreless first period the teams opened things up in the second, combining for six goals.

Ovechkin scored his League-high 28th of the season 40 seconds into the period. Washington started on a power play and took advantage when Nicklas Backstrom's centering pass out of the corner was kicked by Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann and mishandled by Mason, allowing Ovechkin to poke the puck into the net.

It was the 399th goal of Ovechkin's career, leaving him one shy of becoming the 89th player in NHL history, and seventh active player, with 400 goals.

The Flyers responded 58 seconds later when Voracek scored his seventh of the season, ripping a shot from the right circle past Holtby on a 2-on-1 rush with Giroux.

"I surprised myself too [by shooting]," Voracek said. "Just read it a little better. I was coming down and just didn't see that pass. ... I just tried to shoot it far side in case there's a rebound if he's going to save it, and it went in."

Fehr's fifth goal of the season put Washington ahead. Brouwer won a race for a puck in the Philadelphia end and found Fehr trailing the play; his one-timer beat Mason at 5:31.

Philadelphia tied the game on Read's 10th of the season. Holtby couldn't corral Grossman's point shot, and Steve Downie's rebound attempt bounced off the skates of the Capitals' Karl Alzner to Read at the hashmarks for a goal at 11:54.

The second period was marred by the Wilson hit on Schenn, which left the Philadelphia center struggling and falling as he tried to get back to his feet. The teams were split on the legality of the hit but in agreement that it was the pivotal moment of the game.

"It's a game-changing call," Capitals coach Adam Oates said.

"Obviously it was a turning point in the game," Berube said. "Very important for us to capitalize on that five-minute major, and the guys did a good job."

The Flyers didn't update Schenn's condition after the game, and with the team already missing center Vincent Lecavalier, Schenn's absence could push the limit of the Flyers' depth. Chris VandeVelde, signed Dec. 12, was moved up from the fourth line to the second after the injury and saw time in Schenn's spot on the second power-play unit.

Philadelphia next plays Thursday against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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