In their last battle, the Capitals struggled to put away the ailing Flyers, conceding three quick goals in a 5-3 win. The Caps learned from their prior bout with the Flyers and Tuesday’s loss against the Penguins with a dominant 5-2 win Thursday night in Philadelphia.
The Caps’ third line ignited the offense in the first period. Brett Connolly started the scoring off a back-door feed from Michal Kempny. Connolly’s 18th goal of the season marks a new career-high.
Lars Eller continued the Caps first period assault with a rebound goal from a Connolly shot. Eller now has three goals in his last four games.
Even without Jakub Voracek due to a suspension, the Flyers clawed back to start the second. After a failed drop pass from Tom Wilson in the offensive zone, James Van Riemsdyk carried the puck past the blue line and fired a dart past Braden Holtby.
Connolly responded with just over 10 minutes left in the second, when he stole the puck from Philippe Myers on the point, rushed down the ice, and beat Carter Hart glove side. Hart is the eighth different goalie to start for the Flyers this season, a league record.
Wilson hit the 20 goal mark off a one-timer from Evgeny Kuznetsov. It’s the first time Wilson has recorded 20 goals in a season.
Scott Laughton pulled the Flyers within two thanks to a Robert Hagg slap-pass to close out the second period.
The Caps found themselves in penalty trouble in the third, first with an offensive zone trip from Evgeny Kuznetsov, followed by a Nicklas Backstrom hook and an interference call on Nick Jensen. Washington killed off all four Philly power play opportunities.
Kuznetsov closed out the Flyers comeback bid with an empty net goal. It’s his first goal on the road since October, and Alex Ovechkin passed Dino Ciccarelli for 48th all time in points with an assist.
The Caps face the first overall Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
• Playoff Push: Who could the Caps play in the first round?
• Mailbag: How Jensen and Hagelin fit into the lineup
• Prospect Report: Analyzing what little we know about Alexeyev’s injury