Capitals turn aside Flyers to close long road trip


PHILADELPHIA — The travel-weary Washington Capitals arrived here for the finale of their longest trip of the season after nearly two weeks on the road. Their modest aspiration was beating the lowly Philadelphia Flyers to bump their record to .500.

A 4-1 victory that included a go-ahead goal from Dylan Strome in the third period and two empty-netters by Alex Ovechkin to seal the outcome instead left the Capitals jubilant in the visitors’ dressing room at Wells Fargo Center — and singing “Happy Birthday” to Coach Peter Laviolette.

“The win was a good present,” Laviolette, who turned 58, said after Washington collected seven of a possible 12 points on the six-game trip and evened its record at 12-12-4.

Strome’s decisive tally, his sixth goal of the season, came with 10:41 remaining. He redirected John Carlson’s floating wrist shot past Flyers goalie Carter Hart. Ovechkin added career goals Nos. 794 and 795 to draw within seven of passing Gordie Howe for the second most all-time.

Ovechkin has 51 empty-net goals, the second most in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky’s 56. His second goal Wednesday, with 8.6 seconds left, drew the ire of Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny, who shoved Ovechkin and had some pointed words. Konecny was assessed a 10-minute misconduct penalty as the Flyers fell to 9-13-5.

“They lost,” Ovechkin said. “They have a character. They have a good group of guys. Obviously frustration. A big two points. We move on. I always say we have to collect the points.”

Last time out: Nic Dowd lets Caps capitalize late for an uplifting win in Edmonton

Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves for the Capitals and dodged some drama when the Flyers’ Kevin Hayes hit the pipe late in the third period when a goal would have tied it at 2. Lindgren earned his second straight win in place of ailing starter Darcy Kuemper.

After yielding a power-play goal to Hayes late in the first period, the Capitals drew even early in the second on their fourth power-play opportunity when T.J. Oshie beat Hart top shelf with a one-timer off an assist from Strome. The Capitals were on the man advantage after Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk was sent off for tripping. It was the fifth goal of the season for Oshie and his fourth on the power play.

The Flyers dominated the rest of the period, with the Capitals’ tired legs showing the effects of the long trip. Washington didn’t buckle beneath the fatigue, though, keeping the score deadlocked despite Philadelphia continuing to apply heavy pressure.

A penalty-filled first period featured the Flyers striking first courtesy of Hayes’s wrist shot from steps inside the blue line with 4:14 to play. Hayes’s ninth goal of the season came in the closing stages of Philadelphia’s second power play with a replacement stick after he broke his original moments earlier.

Two power plays for Washington plus the start of a third that carried into the second period proved fruitless, although Ovechkin had a point-blank look from his knees that got behind Hart and caromed off the bottom off the crossbar.

The Capitals faced their first bit of adversity early in the first period when Oshie was called for hooking at 4:19. Washington’s penalty kill continued its recent upward trend by limiting the Flyers to two marginal chances, with Lindgren comfortably controlling the second bid. Washington entered the game ranked eighth in the league in penalty killing (80.8 percent).

A little less than seven minutes later, the Capitals went on their first power play after Nick Seeler went to the box for hooking. Ovechkin attempted two shots with the man advantage — only the first of which got through to Hart, who made the save without issue.

Here’s what else to know about the Capitals’ win:

Capitals GM Brian MacLellan ‘concerned’ about his team’s lackluster start

The injury-depleted Capitals get a full day off Thursday to recover from a trip that took them through three time zones. Before returning stateside in the wee hours Tuesday, Washington had logged games in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, where the Capitals won, 3-2, on Monday.

Notable injuries during the trip that left Washington further depleted were to defenseman Martin Fehervary (upper body) and Kuemper (upper body). Both were hurt during Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Flames.

The Capitals have been without defenseman Dmitry Orlov since early November because of a lower body injury. Center Nicklas Backstrom (hip) and winger Tom Wilson (knee) have not played this season. Backstrom has been skating recently and is expected to do so again Friday morning in advance of that night’s game against the Seattle Kraken at Capital One Arena.

“We’re happy how we ended,” Ovechkin said. “Now we go home, refresh our minds, stay with our families and, you know, move on.”

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