Atkinson, Giroux help Flyers top Capitals to snap skid
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Flyers have been playing better of late without much to show for it. Now, they hope a rare win will help turn things around.
Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist and Claude Giroux also scored to lead Philadelphia to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
Carter Hart made 27 saves for the Flyers, who snapped a six-game losing streak and won for just the third time in 22 games.
“Big getting the win, maybe that’ll help,” interim coach Mike Yeo said. “I feel like we’ve been building our game, and now we’ve got to make sure that the results follow it.”
Giroux tied Hall of Famer Eric Lindros for eighth place on the Flyers’ all-time scoring list with the 290th goal of his career just 11 seconds into the game to put Philadelphia up early. Atkinson outraced Martin Fehervary to the puck in the Philadelphia zone, then fed Giroux for a wrist shot from the slot that beat Ilya Samsonov on the blocker side for his 17th of the season.
The goal was tied for the third-fastest in a regular-season game in club history, equaling Bobby Clarke’s 11-second tally to open a contest on Jan. 27, 1983. Tim Kerr holds the record, scoring in eight seconds on March 7, 1989.
Philadelphia increased its advantage to 2-0 with 1:22 left in the period when Atkinson netted his team-leading 18th of the season with a stellar individual effort from the side of the net to corral Scott Laughton’s pass with his skates, find his stick and then shoot off Samsonov and high into the net.
“A lot of energy,” Atkinson said of his game. “When I bring it, I hope I drag guys into the fight.”
T.J. Oshie scored for the Capitals, who lost their second straight.
Washington bemoaned its start, from which the Capitals never recovered.
“They pretty much owned the (first) period, owned possession,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “There’s no excuse for it. We weren’t ready in the first period.”
Oshie pulled the Capitals within a goal with 13:07 left in the second on a power play. He drew an interference penalty from Isaac Ratcliffe and then quickly made the Flyers pay on the man-advantage, scoring on a one-timer from the slot for his sixth of the season and first since Jan. 10.
Both goalies made fantastic saves in the period. Samsonov robbed Travis Konecny with 14:05 left with a glove save, and Hart denied Joe Snively’s backhander try from close range with 10:51 to play.
Washington continued to apply pressure in Philadelphia’s zone but couldn’t come up with the equalizer. Hart preserved the victory with a sprawling pad save on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s try in the final minute after Washington pulled Samsonov for a 6-on-5 situation.
It all came back to the start.
“That first period is something we want back, can’t let that happen, the way they dominated us in the first,” Capitals winger Carl Hagelin said. “Dig yourself a hole like that, it’s hard to come back. It doesn’t matter how well you play the rest of the game. That’s something we can’t let happen. We should take over a game like that if they score early. We should just man up and take over that game and we didn’t do that. That’s unacceptable.”
The first period featured a fight between heavyweights Zack MacEwen and Washington’s Tom Wilson. MacEwen took exception to a hard hit on him by Wilson, and they fought to a draw, with MacEwen picking up a roughing minor in addition to the fighting major. The game remained physical from that point.
Capitals: D Justin Schultz didn’t play. Schultz sat out the Feb. 17 meeting between the teams with an upper-body injury but played in the Capitals’ next game, Thursday’s 4-1 loss at the Rangers. Laviolette said Schultz sat out Friday’s practice for a maintenance day.
Flyers: Hart returned to the lineup after missing the last two with an eye infection. … C Derick Brassard (hip) played for just the fourth time since Nov. 23. In each of the previous three outings, Brassard had a prolonged absence after appearing in one game. … Joel Farabee (upper body) also was back on the ice after sitting for the previous 11 games. He notched a secondary assist on Giroux’s goal.
The Flyers donated $400,000 to the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation to build a street hockey rink at Scanlon Recreation Center in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.
Capitals: Start a three-game homestand against Toronto on Monday.
Flyers: Host Edmonton on Tuesday in the fourth contest of a club-record eight-game homestand.
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