PHILADELPHIA, JAN. 24 -- The Philadelphia Flyers hadn't beaten the Washington Capitals in more than a year, so they were due.
Rick Tocchet collected the payment by scoring three goals to lead the Flyers to a 6-1 victory over the Capitals in front of 17,322 at the Spectrum.
The loss was the fourth in five games for the Capitals, who will play again Friday night at 8 against the Minnesota North Stars at Capital Centre.
"Their game is hard work and they outworked us," Tocchet said of recent games with the Capitals. "I'm not saying we outworked them tonight, but we outchanced them and we put the puck in the net."
This was a rough-and-tumble affair, with referee Bill McCreary doling out 90 minutes in penalties, 52 to the Flyers and 38 to the Capitals.
Earlier today, the Capitals made two trades to try to improve the aggressiveness of their team. General Manager David Poile acquired right wing John Kordic and left wing Paul Fenton from Toronto for future considerations and then sent Fenton to Calgary for defenseman Ken Sabourin.
Kordic, who hasn't played in weeks, and Sabourin will be in Washington Friday, but neither is going to play against the North Stars. Kordic will need several weeks to get in shape, although Sabourin was playing in the American Hockey League and could play Sunday against the New York Islanders.
Neither, however, is likely to score many goals, and that is one of the Capitals' problems at this point.
Washington had a 39-26 edge in shots on goal tonight, but the Flyers had better opportunities against Capitals goalie Mike Liut. And the only chance the Capitals did convert came when Flyers goalie Ron Hextall was way out of the goal.
Former Flyer Nick Kypreos converted that opportunity, but the Capitals were already down by 2-0 at that point and Ron Sutter scored soon afterward. Normand Lacombe, Keith Acton and Tocchet had the other goals for the Flyers, who moved to within two points of the first-place New York Rangers.
The Capitals (22-26-2), meanwhile, are still in fifth place in the Patrick Division. They needed a win to remain within two points of fourth-place New Jersey, which beat Quebec, 6-1, tonight in East Rutherford.
"This was one of the poorer efforts against the Flyers," said Capitals Coach Terry Murray, who had not lost to Philadelphia since becoming head coach.
The Flyers beat the Capitals, 3-2, on Dec. 1, 1989. But since then, the Capitals had gone 6-0-2 before tonight.
This time, the Flyers struck early. Liut stopped Sutter's shot, but Lacombe scored on the rebound for a 1-0 lead with just 1:32 gone in the game. Tocchet then stepped around Mike Lalor at 4:55 and blasted a slap shot between Liut's pads for a 2-0 lead.
The Capitals' lone goal didn't come from the more skilled players, a group that also went zero for four on the power play. The goal came from the grinders.
The fourth line consists of center Dave Tippett, right wing Alan May and left wing Kypreos. Hextall, the best stick-handling goalie in the NHL, went behind the net to play the puck, but Tippett was ridden into him. The effect was a bad clearing pass that caught Hextall out of the net. May took it along the boards and sent it toward the net, with Kypreos deflecting it in with 9:53 left.
A defensive lapse snatched away any momentum resulting from Kypreos's goal. Sutter used the net to lose Michal Pivonka, who got no help from the rest of the squad, and Sutter came around the front to score just 55 seconds later.
"We led, 17-5, in shots in the second period and that third goal was deflating," Murray said.
After that, the game got rougher and the Flyers padded their statistics.
Sutter set up Acton for a 4-1 lead and Pelle Eklund gave Tocchet passes for the last two goals to finish with four assists. Tocchet now has 34 for the season.
The rough play was reminiscient of past Flyers-Capitals games and Philadelphia Coach Paul Holmgren said he loved it.
"Why, because I punched somebody in the head?" asked Hextall.
That was just one of several fracases that erupted. Hextall, who has a history of attacking opponents, was given a penalty in part because he kicked May in the back. May got up and shoved Hextall and bedlam followed.
"I was hoping it might get him off his game," May said.
No such luck.