Even without the NHLs leading point-scorer, the Flyers displayed a very solid offensive attack. The No. 1 offensive team in the league flexed its muscles, especially in the second period, and powered its way out of Washington with a 5-1 victory. On a turbulent night filled with bouncing pucks and deflections, it would be Philadelphia that had no fear of flying with lady luck on their side.
The Caps played even with the Flyers over the first 16 minutes of the game. They were able to stifle Phillys heavy-duty cycle game for most of the opening frame. Thats saying something because the Flyers and Vancouver Canucks generally impress me as two of the best cycle teams in the league.
Scott Hartnell, the Flyers hottest goal-scorer at the moment, pushed his team to the lead with 3:44 left in the opening period. It was a goal that had Washington netminder Tomas Vokoun muttering under his breath and fans in the stands voicing their frustration. Hartnell appeared to take an innocent wrist from about 30 feet that squirted through Vokouns pads; it gave him goals in six straight games. A defenders stick may have impaired the line of sight for Vokoun, but big-league goalies make that save 99.9 of the time.
The second period was all Flyers. Playing their first game without leading scorer Claude Giroux, Philadelphia turned in as complete a middle frame as you will find, and the Caps did not push back much at all. Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn did a nice job of keeping Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-and-Alex Semin quiet.
The bounces were definitely going the way of the Flyers. Marc-Andre Bourdon scored his first NHL goal on a wrister from the point that clicked in off of Mathieu Perreault.
Wayne Simmonds made a delicate crease-front deflection of an Andrej Meszaros shot to make it 3-zip. Its difficult for defensemen to tie up guys in the slot nowadays, and Simmonds was determined to park himself in front of Vokoun and did not budge.
The landslide of second-period goals continued with one from Max Talbot, who during his days as a Penguin proclaimed his disgust for all things Capital. He made a crafty move on Roman Hamrlik, shooting the puck between the defenders legs and catching Vokoun off-guard. It was another shot that wormed its way through Vokoun, and another goal of which Vokoun was not pleased.
Jakub Voracek would tack on Phillys fifth with a beautiful mid-air deflection. He was able to get his stick free from traffic and tip the puck from just below the height of the crossbar past Michal Neuvirth, who had replaced Vokoun after 40 minutes.
Jeff Halpern managed the lone goal for Washington against an otherwise solid Ilya Bryzgalov. Halpern chased down a rebound of a Dennis Wideman blast, and snapped home a forehand from a very sharp angle.
As advertised, the Flyers were very good in this road game. They lead the NHL in road victories and they were clearly the better team tonight.
Jaromir Jagr made his first appearance at Verizon Center in nearly four years and was roundly booed by Caps fans. But a four-goal win went a long way toward softening that blow.
The Caps head off to Winnipeg and Denver for the rest of the week. Thanks for watching on Comcast Sportsnet, the first leg of the trip starts Thursday at 8:30pm eastern time.
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