Depleted Flyers cruise past Capitals

Matt Carle (right) pats Marc-Andre Bourdon on head after Bourdon's second-period goal.
Matt Carle (right) pats Marc-Andre Bourdon on head after Bourdon's second-period goal. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Posted: December 14, 2011

WASHINGTON - Skating without linemate Claude Giroux for the first time all season, Jaromir Jagr was worried that the Flyers' injury depleted lineup couldn't hang with the Washington Capitals.

"I wasn't very confident about [last night's] game when we lost 'G,' " Jagr said. "We lost the best player in the league. It's not easy to play without him."

Last night, the Flyers made a believer out of Jagr. They didn't just hang with the Capitals; they pounded them. With Sean Couturier taking Giroux' place, Jagr's other linemate - Scott Hartnell - scored the first of five straight Flyers goals as they steamrolled Washington, 5-1, at the Verizon Center for their sixth straight win.

It was the Flyers' first regulation win against Washington in two seasons. And they did it with contributions from guys who, well, haven't been regular contributors.

Consider: Marc-Andre Bourdon collected his first NHL goal, Jody Shelley netted his first point since Jan. 14, and Jake Voracek posted only his second goal since Nov. 5. In all, 13 of the Flyers' 18 skaters found their way onto the score sheet.

"It says a lot about this team," Jagr said. "All four lines played really good hockey. We've had tough injuries. Everyone else has kept winning."

And it wasn't only the Flyers' winning streak that has continued. Hartnell pushed his career-high scoring streak to six games, which ties him with Nashville's Patric Hornqvist for the longest goal-scoring streak in the NHL this season.

Wayne Simmonds also scored in his third straight game, setting a new career high. Simmonds now has four goals in his last four games after going seven straight without a single point.

"I thought that was one of our better team games," coach Peter Laviolette said. "Just a complete, start-to-finish, all lines, the goaltender, everyone was going."

With the win, the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers trail Minnesota by two points - with one game in hand - for the overall lead in the league standings.

Oh, and the Flyers held Alex Ovechkin off the score sheet for the first time since Jan. 6, 2009. It's only the fourth time in 24 meetings with the Flyers that Oveckin hadn't collected at least one point. Back on Oct. 20, Ovechkin torched the Flyers for two goals in a 5-2 win. For his career, Ovechkin has 22 goals and 15 assists in 24 games against Philadelphia.

Last night, he just didn't seem to quite fit in with new coach Dale Hunter's patient system. Even with a two-goal hole, the Capitals' offense sat back in neutral-zone trap.

"It's nice when you don't let him score," fellow Russian Ilya Bryzgalov said with a smile. "He's a great player."

Bryzgalov, who stopped 31 of 32 shots, was one Jeff Halpern blemish away from his 25th career shutout. He has been in net for all six straight wins.

Last night, though, Shelley epitomized the Flyers' team effort. With Giroux still dazed by Saturday's accidental knee to the head from Simmonds, Shelley was forced into the lineup for the first time since Nov. 26. He has been a healthy scratch for 13 games this season, yet he impacted the game-winning goal off Bourdon's blade.

Shelley screened Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun, as Vokoun was unable to pick up the redirection off his own defenseman Mathieu Perrault's stick midway through the second period. He was credited with a secondary assist on the play, only his 54th point in 11 entire NHL seasons.

"When you come back into the lineup, you don't want to be the [water] cooler, so to speak," Shelley said. "It's nice to come back and contribute."

Both Voracek and Laviolette sensed a feeling in the locker room that everyone needed to step up in Giroux' absence, as he joined Chris Pronger and Brayden Schenn on the injured list.

"No one talks about Claude being out," Shelley said. "But guys realize in certain situations that they need to take advantage of their opportunities. We're happy for 'Coots' [Couturier] to step into that spot, to see Bourdon get more minutes than ever before. Everybody gets excited for that. It's a great feeling."

Slap shots

The Flyers look to win their seventh straight game tomorrow night in Montreal. It would be their first seven-game streak since 2002 . . . The Flyers now have 11 road wins (11-3-1) in only 15 road games, eclipsing their 9-1-5 start on the road in 1979-80 . . . Since Claude Giroux was carrying the extra "A" for alternate captain in the absence of Chris Pronger, Giroux' "A" was handed off to Jaromir Jagr . . . The AHL announced yesterday that Flyers Hall of Famers Bobby Clarke and Bill Barber will be the honorary captains for the AHL All-Star Classic on Jan. 29-30 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.


For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

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