By Connor Thomas
Chick Fil A, liquor stores, the Flyers’ and Capitals’ defense. What are… things that are closed on Sundays? If you went into yesterday’s midday matchup between Philadelphia and Washington in the nation’s capital looking for a gritty, low scoring, grind-it-out hockey game, you would’ve been very disappointed. The first 10 minutes of the game had the look of a typical NHL game, as the Flyers and Caps played scoreless hockey to start the 1st period, but with just over 11 minutes gone Washington Captain Alex Ovechkin beat Carter Hart top shelf for a power play goal to break the seal. From that goal forward, the scoring flood gates seemed to open, at least for Ovechkin. Just 4 minutes later in the 1st period, Ovechkin tallied another point as he completely undressed Defenseman Philippe Myers before sliding a beautiful pass to Tom Wilson for Washington’s 2nd goal. Ovechkin had already made his mark on the game, as you would expect from one of the greats to ever touch the ice, but 2 minutes later it was the Flyers’ turn to fight back as Scott Laughton deposited a rebound into an open net to pull Philly within 1.
If the 3 opening period goals made your head spin, hopefully you buckled up for the 2nd. Just 2 and a half minutes into the 2nd period Laughton had déjà vu when he put in another rebound from Capitals net-minder Vitek Vanecek to tie the game at 2. Almost as quick and easy as a snap of one’s fingers, Ovechkin responded to the tie game by hammering a slap shot through Carter Hart to put the Caps up again. There were a whopping 3 minutes and 42 seconds of game time following that go-ahead goal where a couple penalties were taken but no goals scored, until Robert Hagg hit a beauty of a one timer that beat Vanecek glove side to tie the contest again. Defense picked up a bit for both sides for the rest of the 2nd period, but one lucky breakaway for James van Riemsdyk and a no-luck-needed wrister that followed put the Flyers back on top. 4 goals should be enough to win most games, but not this one. Stop me if you’ve read this already, but Ovechkin would make yet another game changing play in the final minute of the 2nd when an entry pass to Nicklas Backstrom led to a savvy backhand goal – the 6th of the period.
Let’s have a moment of silence for anyone who bet the under.
Luckily, a back and forth 4-4 hockey game would break the Flyers way in the 3rd period thanks to a change in goaltenders. The Capitals made a goalie change, going to backup Craig Anderson, while the change in net for Philadelphia was simply Carter Hart buckling down. It only took 30 seconds of the period for Sean Couturier to score a go-ahead-goal of his own in his first game back since a rib injury that sidelined him for a couple of weeks. The 5-4 lead would’ve been enough to hold on for the win, but Laughton had a 2 on 1 break with Michael Raffl led to his 3rd goal of the night and his first hat trick of the year. With a 6-4 lead and only 2 minutes left to go, Couturier got on the board one final time with an empty net goal to close out a 3 goal period and a 7-4 victory for Philly. While the first 2 periods were sloppy, the shutout 3rd period by Hart was a welcome sight for a Flyers team that has had trouble defending recently. Fittingly, the Flyers put up a touchdown on Super Bowl Sunday as they moved to 8-3-2 on the year. They will be back in action again tomorrow night against the now 6-3-3 Capitals.