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Flyers 3, Capitals 1: Carter Hart stellar as win streak continues

The Flyers continue to claw their way up the standings.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t the same Philadelphia Flyers club from November and December, folks.

Against all odds, the Flyers have now won seven of their last eight games, including back-to-back victories over a strong Washington Capitals squad. Suddenly, the Flyers are at hockey .500 and continue to claw back into contention.

Saturday night, the Flyers took down the Capitals 3-1 at Capital One Arena, bringing them within five points of a playoff spot with less than half of their season left to play.

Carter Hart was a standout against the Capitals on Wednesday, stopping 26 of 29 Washington shots and helping to stave off a late push in the third period. He put together an even better performance Saturday night, turning aside 39 shots to earn the Flyers their third-straight victory.

One of his biggest saves came early in the first period when he flashed the glove on Capitals forward Tom Wilson during a Washington power play. A goal there has the potential to change the course of a game, but Hart and the Flyers’ PK stood tall against a very dangerous Caps offense to keep the game scoreless.

Alex Ovechkin did eventually manage to get one past Hart and get one tally closer to Wayne Gretzky on the all-time goals list, but that was the only goal the Capitals earned all night.

“Hartsy played a hell of a game for us,” said Scott Laughton. “He found pucks through traffic, swallowed them up when we needed him to when we were stuck out in the zone for long periods of time, and I thought he was the biggest part of why we were successful tonight.”

Laughton put together a strong performance of his own with a redirection tally on the power play to open the scoring. He also added an assist to his point total on the night. This strong showing comes just three days after a three-point night against the Caps in Philly on Wednesday.

Laughton now has 15 points in his last 13 outings.

Meanwhile, Owen Tippett continues to impress as his first full season as a Flyer progresses. Aside from a penalty taken in the first period, Tippett was noticeable in a lot of good ways. He set up James van Riemsdyk for a goal early in the middle period — which was followed up by a Wade Allison tally less than a minute later — and even snuck past the Capitals blueliners for a golden breakaway chance, but the puck rolled off his stick just as he approached the net.

Flyers head coach John Tortorella has preached the importance of consistency with younger players, and Tippett seems to be putting together strong performances in regularity these days.

“I think as the year’s gone on he’s definitely gotten better and better,” said van Riemsdyk. “He’s kind of taken this opportunity that he’s gotten to play a little more minutes, some more power play time, some stuff like that and he’s really ran with it. I think it’s maybe the first time in his career he’s gotten that opportunity, so it’s nice to see him kind of taking that and running with it.

“He’s been super dynamic for us and really has created a lot for us.”

Left off the scoresheet in the contest was Travis Konecny, who had his 10-game point streak snapped. But he certainly didn’t have a quiet night. That’s just not in his nature. In fact, he probably should’ve had a point on a would-be empty-net goal at the end of the game, but a Caps tripping penalty ruined that shining opportunity for him.

Near the midway point of the third period, the Capitals generated some sustained pressure in the Flyers zone as they frantically looked to close the gap with time dying down. After play was finally stopped, Konecny and Capitals veteran T.J. Oshie got into it behind the net, which naturally drew a crowd. Konecny and Oshie were both given minor penalties for roughing, but Konecny’s contagious energy helped keep his teammates invigorated at a hugely critical time in the game.

“I’m not gonna stop him from doing that, and he’s not gonna listen to me anyway. That’s just the way he plays,” said Tortorella. “If I try to take that away from him and discipline him with that stuff, he’ll be an average hockey player. That’s why he is who he is. It’s the effort and the energy that he brings.”

The Flyers will be back in action Monday for the first leg of yet another back-to-back set. They’ll start off with an afternoon tilt against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden, and then they’ll return home to Philly Tuesday to take on the Anaheim Ducks at Wells Fargo Center.