Several Capitals players end droughts in 5-3 win over Flyers
WASHINGTON (AP) — After three games without a goal, T.J. Oshie decided how he’d celebrate his next score.
Another 10 games went by before he finally scored in the third period of the Washington Capitals’ 5-3 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night. Oshie lifted his arms and looked up after becoming the third Capitals player to end a lengthy goal drought in the game.
Oshie conceded the exasperated expression of relief was “a little dramatic,” though goals were a long time coming for the typically high-scoring winger. Same for teammates Andre Burakovsky and Chandler Stephenson before they broke through to help Washington erase a 2-0 deficit and avoid what would’ve been their first four-game home losing streak since 2010.
“It’s been a while,” Oshie said in the wake of his first goal since Dec. 22. “You want to be able to help the team, and sometimes you need a little confirmation by putting one in the back of the net.”
Stephenson scored two goals 47 seconds apart after going 28 games without one, and Burakovsky scored his first-power-play goal of the season to end his 10-game dry spell. Those contributions reduced the impact of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom being held without a point.
“It’s a little bit of a relief,” said Stephenson, who had his first career two-goal game after scoring twice in his first 36 games this season. “It’s kind of the monkey off your back. But you try not to think about it too much that ‘I’ve got to score this game’ or anything like that. Just try to help the team out as much as you can.”
Stephenson helped big-time as Washington came back from a horrendous start to blitz Philadelphia and chase starter Michal Neuvirth with five goals on 20 shots, capped by Devante Smith-Pelly’s goal in the third period. Neuvirth, who missed practice Monday with an illness, said he was still feeling the effects and “was just getting tired every minute.”
At the other end, Washington goaltender Braden Holtby stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced, including an important glove save early on Travis Konecny and several tries by Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux. No. 2 pick Nolan Patrick, Konency and Jakub Voracek scored for the Flyers, who lost for the first time this season when leading at the first intermission.
“We were up 2-0 in a tough building, so we just have to make sure to find a way to keep the game close,” Voracek said. “We did. We were down 3-2, which is not a bad spot here in Washington, but it got away with those two quick goals.”
Goals that Stephenson, Burakovsky and Oshie weren’t getting in recent weeks looked easy as the Capitals took advantage of mistakes by the Flyers all over the ice and in net. Stephenson’s two goals early in the second period sparked the turnaround.
“He got us going tonight,” Oshie said. “He’s the star.”
The fun for the Capitals led to Flyers goalie Alex Lyon making his NHL debut in relief of Neuvirth midway through the third period. Lyon, who could make his first start Thursday at New Jersey, stopped all five shots he faced.
“I thought he went in and battled as we thought he would,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “He’s got a very good demeanor about him. He’s got a nice confidence to him.”
Lyon played out the final minutes of a game that turned quickly and could be a big deal in the Metropolitan Division, where five points separate second place from eighth and last. The Capitals sit atop the division with some more breathing room now.
“Everybody’s fighting for playoff spots,” center Lars Eller said. “We’ve got a bit of a gap now, but they could creep up fast and you don’t want that. I think it was bigger than it might look or might feel right now because it’s going to be tight.”
NOTES: Smith-Pelly replaced healthy scratch Jakub Vrana, who has one point in 13 games. Smith-Pelly’s goal was his first since Jan. 2. ... Patrick had his first career multipoint game. ... Neuvirth and Lyon were Philadelphia’s goaltending tandem because Brian Elliott is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. ... Flyers fans filled the arena with “E-A-G-L-E-S” chants days before the Super Bowl.
Flyers: Visit the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
Capitals: Visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.
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