The Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning will bring their own challenges, but the Philadelphia Flyers’ remaining round-robin opponent is one they are the most familiar with.
One of the teams that the Flyers improved against as the season moved along was one of their divisional rivals, the Washington Capitals.
November 13, 2019: 2-1 shootout loss
The Flyers’ first meeting of the season against the Capitals came while riding a four-game winning streak. On the other hand, the Capitals were riding a 12-game point streak (10-0-2) as they headed into Philadelphia. The Flyers’ winning streak ended, but they extended their point streak to seven games (5-0-2) with the shootout loss.
Of the four matchups this season, this one was the toughest for the Flyers. They ran up against a red-hot Capitals team and took them down to the wire in the shootout. The Flyers weren’t controlling most of the play, but they were able to hang on, eventually tie the game at one with a power-play goal, and get a point by forcing overtime (and a shootout).
Carter Hart got saddled with the loss despite making 35 saves in the game.
The month of November was the first time we really saw this team’s potential, and that included this game against the Capitals.
January 8, 2020: 3-2 win
When people talk about how good the Flyers have been in the second half, they start with this game against the Capitals.
After a horrendous 1-4-1 road trip, the Flyers returned to Philadelphia with a make-or-break home stand on the horizon. They had three home games against the Capitals, Lightning, and Bruins, a trip to St. Louis for a meeting with the reigning Stanley Cup champions, and then three more home games before the All-Star break. The Flyers made the most of them.
An early goal by Travis Konecny set the tone early, and a late first-period goal by Robert Hagg tied the game back up after the Capitals scored two in the middle of the period.
The second period was more of a battle for the Flyers, managing just five shot attempts (out-attempted 13-5) in 14 minutes of 5-on-5 play, while being out-chanced 7-3. However, Carter Hart was up to the task and kept the game tied. The Flyers eventually broke through with a patented Kevin Hayes shorthanded goal late in the period, and rode that lead into the second intermission.
The Flyers used that momentum to put the pressure on early in the third period. Unfortunately they couldn’t extend the lead, but they were able to kill off two penalties midway through the period – they held the Capitals to 0-for-5 on the power play – and had a power play of their own late in the game that helped run the clock down and secure the win.
Hart started this one again for the Flyers, recording 26 saves in the win.
Getting that first win of the season against the Capitals was a big step for the Flyers, and it sparked a hot stretch for the Orange and Black. The Capitals felt that wrath two more times before the end of the season.
February 8, 2020: 7-2 win
A month later, the two teams met again.
This was one of those games that moved the Flyers up from a good team to a great team. They were coming off of back-to-back lackluster efforts (not playing their best in a 3-0 win in Detroit; getting shut out 5-0 against the Devils) and had a litmus test coming up in D.C. against the Capitals.
A hard-fought first period resulted in a 1-1 tie with each team picking up a power-play goal. The Capitals had the better of the play, however, with more shot attempts, shots, and scoring chances at 5-on-5 play. But things took a turn in the second period.
The Flyers scored two goals in 14 seconds – the second of which came with Sean Couturier’s line up against the Capitals’ fourth line for some reason –, and three goals in 1 minute and 45 seconds to break the game wide open. The Flyers carried that 4-1 lead into the third period where they poured it on with three more goals in the span of 5:04 to take a 7-1 lead before the Capitals tried to save some face with another goal.
It wasn’t necessarily an easy feat for the Flyers, though. After taking that three-goal lead in the second period, the Capitals had three power plays on a few ticky-tack calls. With Alex Ovechkin looking to reach the 700-goal mark, the Flyers silenced him and the Capitals. To add insult to injury, Giroux chased Braden Holtby with the Flyers’ seventh goal of the night, which also marked the captain’s 800th career point.
The Flyers went into D.C. and let it be known that they were no longer a pretender, or merely a bubble team; they were to be taken seriously.
March 4, 2020: 5-2 win
With the Flyers riding a six-game winning streak in the midst of a 9-2-0 stretch that started with the 7-2 drubbing – and 16-5-1 stretch that started on January 8 –, they headed down to D.C. yet again to take on the Capitals. It was their final meeting of the regular season and at this point the two teams were neck-and-neck for the top spot in the division.
The Flyers were just three points behind the Capitals, who had played one more game than the Orange and Black. After the Flyers’ win, they were just one point back of the Capitals with a game in hand.
The close standings resulted in a playoff-like atmosphere, and the Flyers delivered.
The Capitals opened the scoring in the latter half of the first period and had more scoring chances in the opening stanza, but that changed in the second period.
After the Flyers appeared to score a goal that never conclusively crossed the line, there was no doubt on Travis Konecny’s next shot that beat Holtby. That tied the game and the Flyers got the next two goals as well from their depth players – Kevin Hayes scoring with assists to Derek Grant and Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and Tyler Pitlick scoring from Michael Raffl and Grant – to take a 3-1 lead.
The Capitals brought it back within one goal late in the second period, but the Flyers survived a third-period push and scored two more goals to secure the 5-2 win.
The Capitals and Flyers have firepower up top that can go head-to-head, but this game showed that depth is key. That’s what the Flyers used to get the win with five goals from five different players – and 10 different players picking up points.
Carter Hart got the start in the first two meetings, posting 61 saves on 64 shots, but Elliott came up with the win in the final two meetings, posting 50 saves on 54 shots. If the round-robin games cause a need for the backup to play, Elliott has experience beating Washington this season.
Over the course of three months, the Flyers showed that they might just be better than the Capitals. Washington squeaked out a shootout win back in November, but the Flyers just got better and better as the season moved along.
The Flyers outscored the Capitals 12-4 in their final two meetings of the season. While a 6-2 win, or a multiple-goal win at all, can’t be expected in the round-robin game, the Flyers should come in with confidence against the Capitals.