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Flyers vs. Capitals recap: Evenly played contest ends in shootout win for the good guys

The Flyers won a shootout after an evenly-played game that could have gone either way.

NHL: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers Derik Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden and a monster-sized ice cream cone all went home happy with a 3-2 Philadelphia Flyers shootout win against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

T.J. Oshie, who apparently has never missed a shootout chance in his life, scored in the shootout for Washington. Jake Voracek scored for the Flyers to tie it, Wayne Simmonds gave Philadelphia the lead on their third shot attempt, and Steve Mason shut down Justin Williams on the final shot to give the good guys the victory.

The crowd of 20,011 was the largest regular-season home Flyers crowd in Wells Fargo Center history -- a weird record to break in December, but awesome nonetheless -- and they watched a completely even, very entertaining hockey game between two rivals sitting right next to each other in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Steve Mason made 36 saves in the win, while Braden Holtby made 36 saves in the loss.

The first period certainly wasn’t the best 20 minutes of hockey the Flyers have put together this season. A sluggish start helped Washington control the tempo for the first five-to-seven minutes, but eventually Philadelphia would start to gain some more zone time. They had several opportunities — maybe not all that high-danger, but opportunities nonetheless — but were unable to convert.

The Caps weathered the storm and really started to take over in the latter five minutes of the period, ultimately resulting in a goal by Andre Burakovsky. Not really sure what Radko Gudas was doing on this one (or, frankly, for much of the first period in general), but letting a guy walk in like this while you go down to take a nap is not ideal.

The beginning of the second period was a much different story, however. The Flyers shot out of the gate, dumping 10 shot attempts on Braden Holtby compared to just two Washington shot attempts on Steve Mason. It ended in a beautiful shift by the Flyers top line, where they pinned Alex Ovechkin’s line in the Caps end and squeezed one just past Holtby to tie the game at 1-1.

But ... of course, it didn’t last. Washington’s third line came into this game in a serious drought, and not even midway through the second period they had put two goals past Mason. Lars Eller picked up the tally on No. 2, just his third goal of the year, to give the Capitals the 2-1 lead.

The teams traded scoring chances down the stretch of the second period, and with 20 seconds left in the frame, Claude Giroux answered with a four-on-four goal to tie the score at 2-2. Ivan Provorov had a golden chance seconds earlier but Holtby had an answer. The Capitals recovered but quickly coughed the puck up to Giroux, who sliced towards the net and ripped a shot over Holtby’s shoulder.

The Flyers did an excellent job containing Washington’s top six, particularly the line of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kuznetsov. That trio was only able to generate about 30 percent of the shot attempts at even strength, and it was a big reason the Flyers were able to stay in this one. The flip side of that is that the Philadelphia top six had a wonderful night — particularly Jake Voracek, who has been taking double shift duties for much of the last several games. He and his teammates generated nearly 60% of the shot attempts while he was on the ice tonight.

It wouldn’t have been a Flyers-Capitals game without some trash from Tom Wilson, of course. He was pretty quiet for the majority of the night, but showed his colors a touch about midway through the third when he grabbed Simmonds from behind for basically no reason. He’s a mediocre hockey player and a mediocre human.

And of course ... he gave Washington a chance to win the game late.

Gudas was called for a hook against Wilson with less than two minutes left in the third, and in years past you might assume what happens next: Ovechkin in his spot, tees up a shot, Flyers lose. But Philadelphia stepped up with an absolutely monster penalty kill when they needed it most, suffocating Washington’s shooting lanes and forcing them into ugly puck movement. The result was just one scoring chance and one shot on goal on the power play, which extended briefly into the overtime period.

The Flyers mostly controlled the overtime period, which only saw 2:15 of three-on-three thanks to the penalty time that carried over into the extra frame. Holtby bailed out his teammates, who were hemmed into the defensive zone by the Flyers for more than a solid minute once the game go to three-a-side.

The Caps worked an offensive zone face off with about a minute left and were able to generate one grade-A chance, but Mason came up with a huge save of his own to send the game to a shootout.