Slow start but Flyers get it done

ROB CARR / GETTY IMAGES Tom Wilson and Claude Giroux exchange words during second period of Flyers' win in Washington.
ROB CARR / GETTY IMAGES Tom Wilson and Claude Giroux exchange words during second period of Flyers' win in Washington.
Posted: March 04, 2014

WASHINGTON - Out of breath, Claude Giroux sat on the Flyers' bench with his long, ginger hair hanging over his face and covering his eyes.

With 65 seconds to play, it was his first chance to exhale all day yesterday afternoon. He flicked his head back and buttoned his chin strap, taking one glance at the Verizon Center scoreboard with satisfaction.

The Flyers' relentless puck pursuit paid off. Giroux, at the center of it all, would not be denied in the final 10 minutes of regulation.

"I think it was just a relief that it finally went in," Giroux said. "We were able to get one. We're a team that doesn't quit until the end of the game."

After Giroux helped set up Jake Voracek's power-play goal to cut Washington's two-goal lead in half, he got a stick on another Voracek shot to earn the Flyers at least one point with 1:05 remaining in the third period.

Vinny Lecavalier earned the Flyers the second point - and their fourth of the weekend - when he beat Braden Holtby in overtime for his 900th career point.

Mark Streit called the Flyers' come-from-behind, 5-4 victory yesterday afternoon "definitely the biggest win of the season so far." And, well, when you consider everything the Flyers had to overcome, Streit wasn't far off.

The Flyers were penalized seven times in the first 41 minutes. They were outshot 17-6 to start the game. They trailed on three different occasions. When the Flyers finally did get back in the game - and knotted it at 2-2 - Andrej Meszaros snapped his stick on a shot and gave up a crippling odd-man rush that resulted in another Capitals goal.

Washington had been 18-0-2 this season when leading entering the third period.

"Being down by two going into the third period was obviously tough against such a good team, but we never gave up," Streit said. "We battled back. Not everything was perfect today. We have to be a little bit smarter. But coming from behind, down two goals, shows the character in the room. We stayed patient."

The Flyers outshot Washington, 36-29, to pick up their 11th win this season when trailing at one point or another in the third period.

Their furious push, in a playoff-like atmosphere, sent a message to the rest of the Eastern Conference that the Flyers are no team to sleep on in the final 43 days of the season. With the help of Dmitry Orlov's 5-minute major power play, the Flyers went from being out of today's playoff picture to holding a one-point edge over the Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan division.

Through it all, the Flyers stuck to their game plan. They played a rather strong second period, yet had little to show for it after Meszaros' unfortunate blunder. Rather than kowtow while trailing, the Flyers dictated play.

"We played the way we wanted," Giroux said. "We made a couple mistakes here and there. I think that was one of our best [games] of guys just staying with the system and playing the way we wanted."

The Flyers won two out of three games in a span of 4 days in their return to action after the Olympic break. The only game they lost - against San Jose last Thursday - was the only one that wouldn't cripple them in the standings against a Western Conference foe. The Flyers gained four points against two divisional opponents and only ceded one.

They will face Washington again on Wednesday at the Wells Fargo Center, one of eight division games remaining.

If yesterday's physical, hotly contested appetizer was any indication, the next 6 weeks are going to be wild. Lecavalier said there were "a lot of emotions on both sides." Steve Mason said, "You could tell there weren't a lot of friends out there."

"It was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time," said Mason, left on the bench for the extra attacker when Giroux scored the game-tying goal. "Even before we got the 5-minute power play, the guys were carrying the majority of the play. At this point [in the season], this is what is expected of the leaders of our team. They came through in one of the biggest moments of the year."

Slap shots

Washington now has earned at least one point in 17 of their last 21 games against the Flyers . . . Adam Hall netted his fourth goal of the season, a shorthanded rocket that was the product of Sean Couturier's dirty work. Four goals is the most Hall has posted in a campaign since 2010-11 . . . The Flyers went 37-for-60 (62 percent) on faceoffs. Brayden Schenn was 18-for-21 (86 percent) on draws in the two-game set this weekend.

On Twitter: @DNFlyers


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