The Flyers needed a big weekend and they sure did deliver the goods with two huge wins and four points in their pocket.
Wayne Simmonds scored twice and the Flyers doubled up the Caps, 6-3, on Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center. It capped a good weekend that saw the Flyers take back-to-back games of utmost importance within the division over Carolina and Washington.
It was also a milestone night once again for Oskar Lindblom, who finally potted his first NHL goal in the second period. The rookie has done everything right in his previous 13 outings, but had some tough luck before finally breaking through. It’s the first of many, given how well the forward has played since getting the call up from Lehigh Valley.
The win keeps the Flyers two points ahead of Columbus, who is idle today, and two points behind Pittsburgh and four points behind the Caps in the Metro.
Shayne Gostisbehere tested Phillipp Grubauer early, jumping in from the point and taking a wrist shot up high that the Caps’ goalie fought off. The rebound caromed in the crease for a bit but no Flyers were around to start the scoring.
At the other end Petr Mrazek was just able to get his glove on a chance off the boot of Nicklas Backstrom at the 6:25 mark. Had the puck gone in the video review team would have likely got some early work but it wasn’t necessary thanks to quick reflexes of Mrazek.
Another great chance for the Flyers to open the scoring at the 9:49 mark with Scott Laughton and Matt Read in on a 2-on-1, but Laughton’s pass wasn’t a good one and took Read out of a shooting position. Read has played well since being recalled from Lehigh Valley, but has yet to find the score sheet in nine games this season.
Just under the 10 minute mark Tom Wilson would provide the Flyers with a power play, as he so often does. This one wouldn’t hurt the Caps, however, as they would kill off Wilson’s interference call without much opposition from the Flyers’ cold man-advantage.
Jake Voracek had a good bid for the first goal with a minute left in the frame, but Grubauer just got a piece of the deflection in front. Grubauer has take the Caps’ net while Braden Holtby works out some of the kinks in his game lately.
With Andre Burakovsky and Sean Couturier in the box and play at 4-on-4, the Flyers would get the all-important first goal. Shayne Gostisbehere walked into a puck off a Claude Giroux face off win and rifled a heavy slap shot past Grubuaer to make it 1-0 Flyers at the 2:15 mark. Ivan Provorov nearly beat Grubauer on a shot just prior to the draw, but his defense partner wouldn’t miss.
A BLAST FROM THE GHOST! pic.twitter.com/j1gZ9tP7ot— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 18, 2018
Staked with a lead, Petr Mrazek kept it that way by staving off a 2-on-1 for the Caps’ Alex Chiasson and Jakub Vrana. He got a pad on Lars Eller’s follow-up chance too as the Flyers’ goaltender looked sharp after getting the night off in Carolina.
After a push from the Caps, the Flyers would cede a tying goal with 4:52 left in the period with a perfect deflection from Alex Ovechkin to make it 1-1. It’s goal No. 601 for Ovechkin, assisted by Travis Boyd and John Carlson.
With 1:41 left in the period the Flyers would regain the lead thanks to a big NHL first for Oskar LIndblom. A night after getting his first assist, Lindblom ripped a shot past Grubauer’s blocker for his first NHL goal to make it 2-1. Jake Voracek picked up the only assist on the goal. It’s a huge goal for the rookie, and couldn’t come at a better time to give the Flyers back the lead in a crucial game.
OSKAR LINDBLOM SCORES HIS FIRST NHL GOAL TO GIVE THE FLYERS A 2-1 LEAD pic.twitter.com/9fgEEMwm62— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 18, 2018
But the Flyers weren’t done scoring before intermission, Provorov sent a point shot towards the net and the puck found its way through a mess of sticks and legs to make it 3-1 Flyers. The goal came just 18 seconds before the break to give the Flyers a two-goal lead with 20 minutes to play.
Early on Travis Konecny would help protect the Flyers’ lead with a great shot block on John Carlson, but he did limp off the ice as the shot really stung him. He would return, though, not even missing a shift.
Michael Raffl, however, would miss all of his third period shifts with an injury. Flyers GM Ron Hextall announced he would not return and would be evaluated further tomorrow. Raffl was missing from the bench to start the third period.
Easing his pain would another Flyers goal, this time Wayne Simmonds tipping home a Robert Hagg point shot to make it 4-1. As he does so often, Simmonds got perfect positioning in front of Grubauer and Hagg put the puck in a great spot for the deflection. It’s a great time for Simmonds to get hot, as he’s got points in four of his past five games now with that goal.
Just another day in the office for Wayne Simmonds. 4-1 Fly guys. pic.twitter.com/3xYK0FjycF— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 18, 2018
Washington would get one back with 9:29 remaining to make it 4-2 with Chandler Stephenson doing the honors to finish off a 2-on-1 after Radko Gudas pinched in the offensive zone. It was a bad play by Gudas considering the Flyers’ three-goal lead.
Simmonds would restore that three-goal lead with his second of the game with 5:33 left, pouncing on a loose puck and beating Grubauer to the glove side to make it 5-2. It’s his 23rd goal of the season, unassisted because Wayne Simmonds is one-man show sometimes.
Oh My. Wayne Simmonds.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 18, 2018
5-2 Flyers pic.twitter.com/yKjAWLGJ5J
John Carlson would keep things interesting (this happens a lot with the Flyers), firing home a rebound off the back boards and past Mrazek with 3:53 left. The Flyers’ netminder overplayed the initial shot and couldn’t get post-to-post quick enough for the second chance.
After a few failed chances at the Capitals’ empty net (Looking at you, Couturier), Jake Voracek would finish things off as the Flyers capped off a good weekend with a 6-3 win and a couple more big points in the playoff race.