Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Winning ugly: Flyers nearly blow 4-goal lead, hold on to beat Caps

Philadelphia, PA -- Jakub Voracek's second goal of the night, coming with 8:09 remaining in regulation, helped the Philadelphia Flyers stave off a furious rally by the Washington Capitals and post an ugly 6-4 victory on Wednesday night that capped a quiet trade-deadline day.

Claude Giroux posted two goals and one assist as the hosts turned in a dominating first half of the contest and led 4-0 when Michael Raffl was credited with a tip-in of a Luke Schenn shot on a power play at 14:06 of the second period.

However, Joel Ward put the Caps on the board just over two minutes later, then Alex Ovechkin recorded a power-play marker from a Downie elbowing call that dropped out of Steve Mason's glove at the 6:35 mark of the third and Troy Brouwer was left alone on the left side to rip a one-timer home off a Jack Hillen dish to pull the visitors within 4-3 at 9:25.

"I felt it hit my glove. I didn't get enough of it. We'll talk with the equipment company tomorrow," quipped Mason. "We played the game of the year for the first half, but then we just decided to stop moving, stop skating."

Voracek, though, restored order to the chaotic contest by taking a Scott Hartnell pass on the right wing and beating backup Philipp Grubauer on a simple wrister from the near circle.

Brooks Laich once more drew Washington close, as his deft mid-air deflection of a Mike Green point offering on another advantage made it 5-4 with six minutes to play.

But Downie, seconds after his clearing attempt caused an icing, took another risk by flipping the puck up ice from behind his own goal line. Lucky for him, and for the Orange and Black, it bounced into the empty cage for the insurance tally with 51.9 seconds on the clock.

"We came out from the drop of the puck and pretty much did what we wanted. At the same time, we still made a lot of mental mistakes," Giroux admitted.

As a result, Philadelphia swept the home-and-home set and took the season series from Washington 3-1-1. Craig Berube's club also upped its mark to 8-2-0 in the last 10 and moved two points ahead of the third-place Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. New York earned a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Leafs.

"They've been through a lot together -- the poor start, the coaching change -- and they've battled back, and I think they deserve to stick together and see where they can go," Holmgren said. "Even when things were bad, they remained focused on what they needed to do," Holmgren said. "They knew they had to play better. Nobody was happy about a 1-7 start."

Mason ended up with 21 saves, while Grubauer stopped 10-of-11 shots in relief of Braden Holtby, who was yanked after yielding four goals on 18 chances.

Having seen the trade deadline pass with only one expected move -- the acquisition of a conditional draft pick in 2015 for defenseman Andrej Meszaros -- the Flyers came out hungry and seemingly unburdened by the memory of playing from behind in Sunday's 5-4 OT victory in DC.

Giroux opened the scoring at 6:48 of the first, when he snaked through the enemy defense and beat Holtby with a backhander from the left side.

It was 2-0 at 8:22 when Voracek potted his first of the contest, a long rip from the right point to cap the club's opening power play.

“They’re into the game and we’re not. We didn’t respond. We didn’t come out with enough to let them know we’re here," said Capitals head coach Adam Oates. 

Mayhem erupted as the clock ticked down to eight minutes remaining in the period. Brayden Schenn took down rookie forward Ryan Stoa with a clean, hard check at the stanchion near the end bench, touching off a line brawl which resulted in both Vincent Lecavalier and John Erskine ejected for engaging in a secondary fight after Tom Wilson and Schenn dropped the gloves.

An egregious miscue from Capitals defenseman Mike Green led to the puck squirting free in front for a one-timer by Giroux, who made it a 3-0 spread with 5:26 elapsed in the middle frame. That strike upped his total in the last 10 games to nine goals and eight assists. It also gave him back-to-back two-goal games for the first time all year ... Washington was held to three first-period shots and did not test Mason for the final 8:53.

Holtby was chased on the following marker, changed from Raffl to Hall to Raffl thanks to a puck which was tipped en route to the back of the net by both players.

Notes: Giroux's three-point night pushed his season total to 64 in 63 games, the first time this season he has averaged better than a point-per-contest ... Andrew MacDonald was given a secondary assist on Raffl's goal, his first point in his first game here, while also posting three blocked shots and three hits ... Dustin Penner, acquired Tuesday from Anaheim, went scoreless with one shot on goal and two hits in 16:50 of ice time ... Downie's goal was his first since December 11 at Chicago, snapping his personal 26-game drought ...Jaroslav Halak, acquired at the deadline from the Buffalo Sabres, was not in uniform ... The fisticuffs occurred on the 10th anniversary of the Flyers-Senators mega-brawl which resulted in an NHL-record 419 penalty minutes ... Since losing 7-0 on Nov. 1, Philly outscored Washington by an 11-6 count in the final two home games between the clubs.
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