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game recap

Capitals win ninth straight, defeat Flyers

Washington takes over first place in NHL standings with 63 points

by Katie Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals won their ninth consecutive game with a 5-0 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at Verizon Center on Sunday. 

The Capitals (29-9-5) took over first place in the NHL with 63 points with four goals in the first 6:36 of the third period. They have outscored opponents 40-11 during their winning streak and haven't allowed an even-strength goal in six games. 

"Honestly, we don't really care about it, I think," Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom said of the winning streak. "That's maybe what's different about it. Our goal is to get ourselves into the playoffs and we're trying to win every game. We're just playing good hockey right now, so hopefully we can continue with that."

 

WATCH: All Flyers vs. Capitals highlights

 

Goalie Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves for his second NHL shutout. Justin Williams and Matt Niskanen each scored twice. Andre Burakovsky also scored for the Capitals. 

Goalie Steve Mason made 12 saves for the Flyers (22-18-6). Michal Neuvirth made five saves in relief after Mason was pulled for allowing four goals on seven shots in the third period. The Flyers have lost nine consecutive road games. 

"The first two periods we played excellent road periods," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "We didn't give up much and had a little bit better of the chances. But it got away from us in five minutes at the start of the third period. It was about a five-minute span and it got away from us. We made one or two mistakes and they capitalized. We didn't stop that momentum."

Burakovsky's power-play goal at 9:08 of the second period gave Washington a 1-0 lead. The goal was his sixth of the season.

Williams scored his 13th goal at 1:36 of the third to make it 2-0.

Video: Grubauer earns Sunday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

Niskanen scored at 3:20 of the third to give Washington a 3-0 lead when he finished Alex Ovechkin's feed on the rush for his first goal since Dec. 13. His second goal and fourth of the season gave him his second multi-point game this season and increased the Capitals' lead to 4-0. 

"This one, it just kind of snowballed into a bad thing for them," Williams said. "We scored a bunch of goals in a few minutes and all of a sudden it looks lopsided. I didn't really care for our start. I thought we were kind of slow, not many shots. But our goalie seemed to be not letting anything in. it's always nice."

Williams' second goal at 6:36 completed the scoring. 

Capitals defenseman John Carlson left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury and did not return.

Video: PHI@WSH: Backstrom sets up Williams with slick pass

 

Goal of the game

Backstrom started a 2-on-1 with Ovechkin that turned in to a tic-tac-toe play. Ovechkin may have been able to tap it in, but he spotted Niskanen streaking down the slot and faked a slap shot that drew Mason to the post. Niskanen had plenty of space to score. 

"I wasn't expecting that, but he put it right on my tape," Niskanen said. "One of the easier ones I've ever scored."

Video: PHI@WSH: Niskanen tallies off Ovechkin's feed

 

Save of the game

Grubauer made two saves in the first two minutes of the game on Mark Streit and Dale Weise, stopping play when he dove to his right to cover the puck. Grubauer said after the game that making some tough saves early helped him get into the game. 

Video: PHI@WSH: Grubauer keeps game scoreless with two stops

 

Highlight of the game

Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto whiffed on a clearing attempt and Burakovsky scored from the slot.

Video: PHI@WSH: Burakovsky makes Flyers pay for a turnover

 

Unsung performance of the game

With Carlson out for the rest of the game, the Capitals needed their bottom defense pair to step up. Brooks Orpik had an assist, three blocks and four hits in 21:43 of ice time. Nate Schmidt skated 21:37, his highest total since Dec. 7. 

 

They said it

"We came out with a pretty good focus, talked about everybody just upping the speed of our game and using our roster a little bit better here. Our shifts were a little too long and we weren't playing as quick as we needed to. We came out, and I thought when we scored the second goal quickly, it got them on their heels. The third and fourth, it sort of killed their will a little bit." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz on the third period

 

"Everybody seems to be doing their job at a high level right now, and that's why we're being successful. When there's a breakdown, someone's there to help you out and when there's a total breakdown our goaltenders are there to shut the door. Not a great start, but a great finish." -- Capitals forward Justin Williams

 

"It's definitely a tough stretch right now. We're not proud of the way things are going. We've kind of got to step back here and get away for a few days, which I think will be good at this point and time and just come back and reset." -- Flyers goalie Steve Mason on the upcoming bye week

 

Need to know

Carlson will travel and is possible to play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday. 

 

What's next:

Flyers: Host the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 21 (7 p.m. ET; MSG+ 2, TCN-PH, NHL.TV)

Capitals: At the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports, SN, ROOT, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Williams, Niskanen lead Caps to 5-0 win over Flyers

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