Saturday, December 05, 2009

Caps steal the show in Laviolette's debut, crush Flyers

by Bob Herpen
The Phanatic Magazine

Nicklas Backstrom posted a goal and four assists as the Washington Capitals thoroughly embarrassed the Flyers, 8-2, at Wachovia Center, in the first game for new Philadelphia head coach Peter Laviolette.

Mike Green contributed two goals and two helpers for the Capitals, who tallied seven times over the first 40 minutes to pick up their fifth consecutive win. Tomas Fleischmann lit the lamp twice, while Brooks Laich, Chris Clark and David Steckel scored once each.

Jose Theodore stopped 34 shots for Washington, which missed a handful of regulars -- including Alex Ovechkin who was serving the final game of his suspension -- but managed to score four times on the power play and record the most goals in one game at Philadelphia in franchise history.

Scott Hartnell and Mika Pyorala provided the offense for the Flyers, who put together their worst home performance of the season.

Laviolette was brought in on Friday evening, just hours after the club fired John Stevens who had been behind the bench since October, 2006.

Starter Ray Emery was tagged in the loss for five goals on 17 shots in 31-plus minutes. Brian Boucher yielded three scores on 13 shots over the remainder of the game for Philadelphia, which suffered its seventh loss in eight contests.

The long night for the home team began with just 57 seconds played, as Brendan Morrison connected with Fleischmann for an easy tap-in.

Pyorala then snapped the Flyers' long scoreless streak, slamming home the rebound of an Oskars Bartulis point shot with 7:54 left in the first, but the contest took a decisive turn a little more than two minutes later.

Philly enforcer Dan Carcillo was given minors for cross-checking and instigation, a fighting major, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct for knocking down Caps forward Matt Bradley with one punch. Bradley had not been prepared to meet Carcillo's challenge, then was bloodied a split second before he was able to drop his gloves and steady himself.

Armed with a nine-minute advantage, the Caps struck for a pair of scores 20 seconds apart by Fleischmann and Green for a 3-1 game.

Still on the extended power play, Laich's fluttering shot eluded Emery 36 seconds into the second period and Washington led by three.

Clark then sent a blistering shot home from the right circle with 8:46 left in the second for a 5-1 game just after a Flyers power play expired. Boucher came on for Emery but Backstrom converted a rebound from the top of the crease 48 seconds later.

It was 7-1 for the visitors when Backstrom fed Green for a one-timer in the slot at 15:23 and the Caps took the six-goal bulge to intermission.

Hartnell's one-timer off a dish from Jon Kalinski at 6:09 of the third period brought the Flyers' deficit to five once more, but Hartnell's slashing penalty led to Washington's eighth and final goal, from Steckel, at 10:57.

The Capitals sat back for the remainder of regulation but the Flyers were unable to put a further dent in their deficit despite a 15-5 shot advantage.

Notes: Washington's most decisive prior triumph in Philadelphia came on January 8, 1984, a 7-1 win where Bengt Gustafsson scored five goals...Pyorala's goal snapped a scoreless string of 172 minutes, 10 seconds dating back to the end of the first period in last Friday's home game against Buffalo...Pittsburgh was the last club to score eight against the Flyers at home, in an 8-2 victory on October 28, 2006...Philly hadn't lost a home game by six goals since a 6-0 setback to Tampa Bay on January 28, 2006.

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