Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Rising: Flyers erase two-goal deficit, beat Caps in OT

Philadelphia, PA -- You couldn't blame the Flyers if they managed to finish this weekend with a win and a loss over two teams who have solid footing in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

But after Saturday's 3-1 decision over Boston, and for the first time in a long time this season, things took a turn for the better.

Kimmo Timonen tied the game with 9.5 seconds left in regulation and assisted on Ruslan Fedotenko's game-winner in overtime, as Philly rallied past the Washington Capitals, 5-4, to cap a thrilling Easter contest on Sunday night.

"After we killed that 5-on-3, I felt we had some momentum, going. But then we got behind by two goals it was...not deflating but we needed to focus on pressing them and try to score more goals," Fedotenko said. "It was a great effort by everybody, especially from 'Bryzy' to give us a chance."

Timonen had three assists for the Flyers, who have won two in a row and sit two points behind the New York Rangers and Islanders for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.

Claude Giroux posted a goal and two assists for Philadelphia, which moved five points out of last place in the conference. Max Talbot and Matt Read also lit the lamp. Talbot left the game late in the second period with a lower-body injury which was either a skate cut or knee issue, but the nature of the issue was not specified.

Ilya Bryzgalov matched Ron Hextall's 1988-89 streak of 19 consecutive starts, and made 25 saves for the victors.

One piece missing from the stunning win was Jakub Voracek, who came to the defense of his captain, engaged Caps forward Steve Oleksy in a fight early in the third but was handed an instigator, major and 10-minute misconduct.

"Jake (Voracek) dropping the gloves, you don’t see that every day. He’s just a great teammate and a great linemate. I think everyone in the room is lucky to have him as a teammate. He cares a lot for this team so that kind of got everyone going,” admitted Giroux.

Marcus Johansson had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who are four points behind the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Southeast Division. Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alex Ovechkin also lit the lamp.

Braden Holtby stopped 29-of-34 shots in defeat.

Trailing by two, 4-2, Giroux got the Flyers within one at the 12:48 mark of the third period. His rising shot from the outer part of the left circle managed to sail through a screen and touch the net inside the far post only seconds into a holding call on Washington's Troy Brouwer.

The hosts pulled Bryzgalov with nearly 90 seconds on the clock for the extra attacker and the comeback continued in the waning seconds. Giroux controlled a puck along the left boards and fed back to the point, where Timonen's one-timer might have changed direction off Matt Read's stick or a Capitals defender, and got past Holtby, sending the game into overtime.

Fedotenko scored the game-winner 1:34 into overtime as Timonen set up him up with a perfect crossing pass -- which he slid between Holtby's pads -- to cap off a remarkable comeback.

"We got a point there, but we obviously want two there," Capitals head coach Adam Oates said. "We let it get away."

The Capitals drew first blood at the 4:29 mark of the first period. Jack Hillen's shot from the point was deflected out of the air by Backstrom.

Talbot tied the game at the 10:26 mark. Timonen threw the puck off the back boards and Zac Rinaldo redirected the puck out in front, where the unlucky winger beat Holtby.

Read gave the home team a 2-1 lead at the 14:55 mark. He was a stride ahead of the Capitals defense near the Washington blue line when a lead pass Giroux found his stick. He went in on a breakaway and beat Holtby to the right post.

Minutes later, a third goal was wiped out due to a Wayne Simmonds penalty for goaltender interference, and when Giroux was sent off before play resumed, the visitors had a full two-minute 5-on-3. However, the Flyers stood up for Bryzgalov and prevented any meaningful offense.

Green then turned the tables, scoring on a breakaway thanks to a Brooks Laich stretch pass with 1:18 left in the middle stanza to make it a 2-2 game.

A turnover by Giroux in his own zone led to Washington's third goal. Johansson gathered the loose puck and beat Bryzgalov on a shot from the high slot, making 3-2 at the 6:22 mark of the third. Just 26 seconds later, Ovechkin's one-timer from the left circle on a power play gave the Capitals a two-goal cushion.

“He is one of those guys who wants to make a difference,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette in Giroux's defense. “I like the fact that he goes on the ice and asserts himself the way he does when you need to turn the game into a different direction."

Notes: After going 26 games without scoring, Fedotenko has lit the lamp in consecutive games for the first time all year...The Flyers won two of the three games in the season series, including both in Philadelphia...Defenseman Kent Huskins made his Flyers debut after coming over in a trade with Detroit on Saturday...Voracek fought for the first time in his career...The Capitals went 2-for-7 on the power play, while the Flyers went 1-for-4 on the man advantage after converting on each of their previous five attempts over the last two games.
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