It took a little longer than expected, but the Philadelphia Flyers extended their winning streak to three games tonight with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against the Washington Capitals.
Jeff Carter would score early, Claude Giroux would score late in the second, and Andrej Meszaros tallied in overtime to get the win for Philly. Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves on the night and register his second win on the year against the Caps.
Just hours after seeing general manager Paul Holmgren’s contract extended for another three seasons, the Orange and Black became the first team in the NHL to reach the 30-win plateau.
In just their 2nd home game of 2011, the Flyers would commit the same mistake they did against the Rangers by letting Washington back into the game late. After losing a 2-0 lead on a pair of quick goals by the visitors midway through the third period, the Flyers still came out on top despite making the game harder on themselves than it had to be.
Similar to the Rangers game on Sunday, the Flyers jumped out to the early lead with a Carter goal 1:30 into the game.
Jason Chimera overskated the puck at the Flyers’ blue line which lead to Carter taking the puck down the ice. While driving to the net, he worked to the outside of young defender John Carlson and skated behind the net before banking the puck off an out-of-position Michal Neuvirth.
Shortly afterwards, DJ King tried to get his team going by dropping the gloves with Jody Shelley. The fight didn’t initially motivate his team, but the Caps did start to dictate play during the middle of the period. Washington would cause turnovers in the offensive zone and generate numerous and close scoring chances. Despite the mid-period surge, the Flyers would ultimately gain a power play with 5 minutes left in the period. The home team failed to convert on the opportunity and the rest of the period would go scoreless as the Flyers would lead 1-0 after one.
The Flyers introduced Semyon Varlamov into the game by almost scoring in the first minute of the 2nd period. Mike Richards drove to the net and was able to get Varlamov on his back, but he was unable to score on the goalie in desperation save mode.
On the ensuing shifts the Caps would hit the post twice. After the Flyers gained momentum again, they’d capitalize on their chances and increase their lead. As Carter was skating behind the net and into the corner, he turned around and passed it to Giroux who was moving into the slot. Claude kicked it to his skate and put a move on Varlamov leading to a slam-dunk into an open net for his 18th goal of the year.
“Bob” then came up big near the end of the period as he would make a save on Chimera who was on the doorstep trying to deposit a cross-ice feed. The period therefore ended 2-0 in favor of Philadelphia.
The third period saw the Flyers trying to unsuccessfully nurse that two-goal edge, and the Capitals made them pay for their misplaced patience on scores within 40 seconds of each other. Mike Knuble struck against his former club on a loose puck in the crease, then Alex Ovechkin was cleared of gloving the puck in via replay for a 2-2 tie.
The Flyers almost got a lucky bounce when a shot went off Mike Green and came within inches of crossing the goal line before Varlamov covered up the puck with about 5 minutes left. As the final frantic minutes in the game passed, neither team could break the deadlock.
The overtime period wouldn’t last long as Meszaros ripped a shot past Varlamov from the bottom of the circles with 1:09 played in the extra session.
All told, the Eastern Conference leaders would outshoot Washington 30-25, including a narrow 13-12 margin in the 3rd period and overtime.
The Flyers ran into the same problem they ran into against the Rangers, namely, vainly trying to check away a lead without trying to extend it in the third period.
On Sunday, the Flyers also allowed two 3rd period goals to win 3-2 after being up by 3-0 at the end of the 2nd. Tonight, they went into the 3rd up 2-0 and allowed the next two goals. It’s a problem that may be caused by Chris Pronger’s absence. The emotional leader on the team, Pronger is the one who is capable of calming the team down and waking the team up at the right times. An appropriate time for a team to wake up would be when they’re getting outworked in the 3rd period.
Notes: The Flyers had also beaten the Capitals, 2-0, on January 9, 1986 when they became the first team in the NHL to reach the 30-win mark that season…Bobrovsky is now 1-0-1 against Washington on the year. The Flyers hadn’t won in regulation against Washington since a 4-2 win in DC on February 24, 2009 (3-4-1)… The Flyers improved to 2-0-1 against Washington on the year and upped their mark to 6-3-1 against the Southeast division (Tampa Bay 0-2-0, Atlanta 1-0-0, Carolina 2-0-0, Florida 1-1-0).