Hayes leads Flyers past Washington
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Flyers just needed to get back on home ice to regain their winning stride.
Kevin Hayes scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period short-handed to lead Philadelphia to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.
Robert Hagg and Travis Konecny also scored for the Flyers, who improved their NHL-best home record to 14-2-4. The Flyers returned to Philadelphia for the first time in 16 days after a disappointing six-game road trip in which they lost five of six and allowed 27 goals in the defeats.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “This was an important win, a real character win.”
Rather than analyze the Flyers’ home/road disparity, Vigneault wanted to savor the victory.
“I am going home, I’m going to have a martini, I’m going to relax and I’m going to enjoy the win,” he said. “Then we’ve got to get ready for a tough game against Tampa at home (on Saturday). So, I’ll focus on the homestand first.”
Carter Hart made 26 saves for Philadelphia while upping his home mark to 12-1-2.
“It’s huge,” Hart said. “The road trip didn’t go the way we wanted and we bounced back tonight.”
Like his team, Hart hasn’t been the same away from Philadelphia. He is 2-9-1 on the road, but didn’t have an explanation for the difference in the numbers.
“I follow the same pregame routine,” he said.
Luckily for Hart and the Flyers, they’ll play the next two and five of six in Philadelphia.
“We’re a good team at home,” Philadelphia’s Sean Couturier said.
Jakub Vrana and Nicklas Backstrom scored for Washington, and Braden Holtby finished with 24 saves. The Capitals, who entered with an NHL-best 65 points, had won three straight and 14 of the last 19.
Hayes put Philadelphia ahead 3-2 with the only tally of the second, scoring on a breakaway with 2:18 left in the period. Hayes deked to his backhand to beat Holtby for his 13th of the season.
The teams each scored twice in the first.
Konecny opened the scoring 3 1/2 minutes in, capitalizing on Nick Jensen’s turnover and beating Holtby high over the left shoulder with a wrister.
Washington notched the next two to go in front 2-1, on Backstrom’s ninth of the season and Vrana’s 19th with 7 1/2 left. Backstrom shot between Hart’s legs from close range and Vrana beat Hart on the blocker side from the slot.
Hagg’s slap shot deflected off T.J. Oshie and past Holtby with 41.5 seconds remaining in the period to tie it.
Both teams were playing the second game of a back-to-back, and Washington coach Todd Reirden said the Capitals didn’t follow through on the game plan for the situation. He said an early goal is important as well as success on special teams. Washington went 0-for-5 on the man-advantage as well as allowing the short-handed tally.
“Some keys to how you can have success in back-to-back games, tonight we didn’t properly execute,” he said. “Those two things, coupled with an unforced error on their first goal, we had to fight against tonight. I’m disappointed in those areas of our game.”
Backstrom said the breakdown on the power play hurt.
“That’s on us,” Backstrom said. “If you’re going to win games this time of year, you can’t allow that. We weren’t good at all in that aspect tonight. So, that’s something we have to be better at.”
NOTES: The season series is even at 1-1. The teams will play twice more, on Feb. 4 and March 8 in Washington. ... Flyers D Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) didn’t play after being injured in Tuesday’s 5-4 OT loss at Carolina. ... The Capitals fell to 17-6-1 on the road. They began play with the best road mark in the league. ... Washington C Evgeny Kuznetsov extended his point streak (four goals, five assists) to seven straight contests with an assist. ... Philadelphia is 4-3-2 on the second game of a back-to-back while Washington is 5-2-1.
Capitals: Start a three-game homestand Saturday against New Jersey.
Flyers: Host Tampa Bay on Saturday.
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