PHILADELPHIA — If there’s one thing the Washington Capitals have shown in the first six games of the season it’s their collective ability to endure lapses in play and find a way to reinvigorate themselves. Against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night, they did precisely that.
After relying heavily on Tomas Vokoun throughout the second period, Washington blitzed the Flyers with three goals in a span of 2 minutes 25 seconds early in the third to fuel a 5-2 win and remain perfect on the year at 6-0-0. The outburst, with goals that all came with traffic in front of the net, silenced the 19,658 at Wells Fargo Center and sent many fans streaming to the exits early.
Afterward, Coach Bruce Boudreau acknowledged the Capitals benefited from at least two goals from deflections off opposing defenders and other bounces that came at the right time.
“It wasn’t a 5-2 game. Obviously, we got the breaks when we needed to get the breaks and we capitalized,” said Boudreau, who admitted that after three of the team’s first five wins coming by a one-goal margin, he didn’t predict Washington’s first game with a large lead would come in Philadelphia.
“I’m not used to it yet,” he said. “I’ll breathe a sigh of relief when I get on the plane. It was good and it was totally unexpected against this team but when you get a couple deflection goals like that and the goalie’s playing like he’s been playing . . . it’s pretty good.”
Vokoun finished with 40 saves, the most he has been required to make as a Capital, while Alex Ovechkin posted two goals and Mathieu Perreault, Roman Hamrlik and Joel Ward each added their first tally of the season.
The offense kicked into overdrive with just 2:23 elapsed in the third period, which the Capitals entered leading 2-1. Hamrlik took a shot from the top of the circles that went off Flyers defenseman Andreas Lilja and past Ilya Bryzgalov (19 saves).
On the second shift after that tally, Ovechkin fought off Max Talbot to get off a shot that knuckled its way toward the net to make it 4-1. Less than a minute later, Ward deflected Jeff Schultz’s point shot and to complete the barrage.
It was a nice change of pace for Vokoun, who was bombarded with 17 shots from the Flyers in the third period alone.
“It’s easier for the goalie mentally after that,” Vokoun said. “You don’t have to worry about one mistake costing you the game. You still want to stop everything, it’s just you’re not under so much pressure. So it’s nice when you have a lead like that.”
Philadelphia made it 5-2 on a meaningless goal by Andreas Nodl with 14.7 seconds remaining but all in all it was another positive outing for the Czech netminder. Vokoun, 35, holds a 1.95 goals against average and .939 save percentage.
Washington’s flurry came after a second period in which its control of the game never seemed certain despite holding a lead. The Capitals played on their heels and sloppily in their own end, hemmed in for multiple shifts in succession as Philadelphia surged in an attempt to tie the contest.
On back-to-back shifts over a two-minute stretch beginning with nine minutes gone in the period, the Capitals’ top two lines turned the puck over repeatedly and yielded seven attempted shots, four on net, including one that required a diving stick save by Vokoun.
“The first, probably 14 minutes in the second period, they was dominating but Vokey play unbelievable and he keep us in the game,” Ovechkin said. “And keep the lead and in the third period we use our chances and score goals.”
Despite the lopsided play, the Flyers weren’t able to finish any of their opportunities and it was the Capitals that came closest to scoring a goal in the second.
An apparent goal by Backstrom with 1:59 remaining in the second was waved off because Ovechkin had barreled over Bryzgalov as he drove the net for a shot that then bounced out to the high slot and his Swedish linemate. The two had connected previously in the contest, though, in Washington’s first offensive spurt late in the first.
After falling behind on a breakaway goal by Claude Giroux at 14:25 of the first, Washington found a little luck with less than two minutes remaining as a wrister from Mathieu Perreault deflected off Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn’s stick to even the score. The Capitals kept pushing as time dwindled toward intermission, and Ovechkin buried the puck into a wide-open net after Backstrom’s stuff attempt slid through the crease to the star left wing. Ovechkin’s tally put Washington up 2-1 with 11.8 seconds to go in the first.
Capitals notes: Jay Beagle missed a third consecutive game since being knocked out by Pittsburgh’s Arron Asham on Oct. 13. Asked if Beagle has a concussion, Boudreau said “You can infer whatever you want to infer. We’re just saying it’s day to day.” . . .
Michal Neuvirth missed a fourth straight game with a bruised right foot. . . . Jeff Halpern suffered a cut over his left eye after a hit against the Flyers. He received stitches but finished the game.