Ovechkin’s pair of goals from his office guided the Capitals to a 6-3 victory. He has eight goals in six games against the Flyers this season, including at least one in each meeting.
“He was firing today,” Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette said. “. . . The movement’s been good [on the power play], and when everybody’s been touching the puck, it’s hard to defend just one person. Other guys are really capable of scoring goals, so it leads to more opportunity and opens other things up.”
Ovechkin has 24 goals on the season and 730 in his career. He is one goal away from tying Marcel Dionne for fifth on the NHL’s all-time list.
The win let Washington (29-12-4, 62 points) bounce back from Thursday’s dismal 5-2 home loss to the NHL-worst Buffalo Sabres. John Carlson had his first career four-assist game and leads NHL defensemen in points with 42 (10 goals and 32 assists). Ovechkin also had an assist, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and two assists.
The Capitals moved four points ahead of the New York Islanders atop the East Division and play again Sunday afternoon at the Boston Bruins.
“Every game means so much,” Carlson said. “... We need to battle every night for something. We can’t just expect since we’re playing good to come out and have the same performance like we have without that extra effort and attention to detail, and I think that was what was missing [against Buffalo].”
Washington went into the third period up 4-2 after Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored in the second. Wade Allison’s first NHL goal, at 7:02 of the third, cut the Capitals’ lead to one, but Washington responded. Conor Sheary redirected a Justin Schultz point shot past Lyon at 9:15 to boost the Capitals’ lead back to two goals. Sheary, whom the Capitals signed to a two-year, $3 million contract extension Wednesday, has four goals in his past four games.
New addition Anthony Mantha added an empty-netter with 1:12 left. He has three goals in three games with the Capitals.
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 22 saves after he had been unavailable Thursday because of an upper-body injury. The Capitals called it a day-to-day issue and something that had just “popped up.”
Vitek Vanecek started against the Sabres but was pulled after allowing four goals on 21 shots; Craig Anderson stopped all eight shots he faced in relief. Anderson returned to the taxi squad Friday, and Vanecek is expected to start Sunday.
Lyon was in net for the Flyers after Carter Hart was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. Lyon was the 147th netminder Ovechkin has scored on during his 16-year career. Lyon, 28, was making his first NHL start since Feb. 1, 2020.
But even with an inexperienced goalie in the Flyers’ net, Saturday’s game was back-and-forth.
After Ovechkin opened the scoring at 3:38 of the first period, the Flyers tied the score at 1 on Ivan Provorov’s shot from the left point with one second left in the frame. Samsonov was screened by three players, including two Capitals defenders. The Capitals outshot the Flyers 11-6 in the period and controlled most of the play, but Provorov’s goal handed Philadelphia a bit of momentum.
But Orlov gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead just 33 seconds into the second period with a shot from above the left circle that deflected off a Flyers player and beat Lyon to the short side. It was Orlov’s second goal in as many games.
James van Riemsdyk tied it at 2 when he beat Samsonov to the five hole on a breakaway at 5:28. It was van Riemsdyk’s first goal in 18 games.
It took Ovechkin just four seconds of the Capitals’ third power-play chance to break the tie at 6:15. Kuznetsov added his eighth goal of the season at 15:02, finishing a slick, no-look, backhand pass from Tom Wilson for the eventual game-winner.
“I thought we played a strong game,” Laviolette said. “It was really good from the start. I thought everyone seemed to be on point. We were skating harder and competing much better and sharper execution. Different ballgame.”
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