As Philadelphia Flyers fans everywhere patiently wait for hockey to resume, we are forced to settle for replays of Flyers games from the past in between binge-watching sessions of The Last Dance. Lucky for you, your friends at Philly Sports Network have put together the preeminent list of the greatest Flyers games of the 2019-20 season and will present them individually in a new series entitled “Top Flyte.”
Kicking things off, we take an in-depth look at a game with an abundance of Flyers’ offense, the 7-2 demolition of the Washington Capitals on February 8, 2020.
There was so much more than just the scoreboard that made this matchup special. The Flyers were coming off an appalling 5-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center two nights prior. To make matters worse, the orange and black were in the nation’s capital going up against the number one team in the Metropolitan Division who had just won six of their last eight games.
The Capitals’ captain, Alex Ovechkin, was on his epic march to 700 goals. He had scored 14 goals in his last seven games, which included five multi-goal performances and three hat-tricks. Ovi was just two goals shy of the prestigious 700 mark and there were about 19,000 eager fans at Capital One Arena who wanted to see their hero make history on home ice.
The contest also marked the first game back in Washington for defenseman Matt Niskanen since his trade to the Flyers back on June 14, 2019. Surely, there would be some emotion as Niskanen returned to the ice where he had helped the Capitals win their first Stanley Cup in 2018.
Philadelphia jumped on the board first with a Sean Couturier power play goal, assisted by Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. The Capitals would soon respond with a power play goal of their own from T.J. Oshie with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. That would be the last chunk of Caps’ offense for quite a while as the ice began to tilt heavily in the Flyers’ favor.
At the closing of the first intermission, the Flyers emerged from the visitor’s locker room on a mission. They scored three goals in the first 4:30 of the second period, including two within 14 seconds of one another.
Michael Raffl got the party started, burying a one-timer off a nifty pass from Nicolas Aube-Kubel. This was followed quickly by another Sean Couturier tally, a beauty on the rush where he deked Braden Holtby out of his jock strap. James van Riemsdyk capped off the period with his 15th goal of the season.
With a 4-1 lead, the Flyers never took their foot off the throttle and continued to dismantle Washington in the third period. Aube-Kubel continued his tremendous play with an unassisted snipe after the Flyers forecheck led to an errant pass by the Capitals.
Travis Konecny would follow that up with his 18th goal of the season; tipping home a Claude Giroux shot from below the left circle to make it 6-1 Philadelphia.
The prominent highlight, among many on the night, was Claude Giroux one-timing a sweet pass from T.K. on the two-man advantage for his 800th career NHL point. Giroux finished the evening with three points (1 goal, 2 assists) and continued his assault on the Philadelphia Flyers’ all-time points list (currently fourth place).
The Captain needed a spark, recording only five points (0 goals, 5 assists) in his last 12 games. Not only did his three-point night break him out of a slump, it turned out to be the catalyst for G’s play throughout the rest of the season. In the 14 games following February 8th, 2020, Claude Giroux accumulated 15 points (7 goals, 8 assists).
Although Evgeny Kuznetsov would score for the Capitals later in the third period, the Flyers would finish off Washington with a final score of 7-2. Alex Ovechkin was held scoreless and recorded only two shots on goal. The Flyers merciless defense held the Capitals’ elite goal scorer in check and delayed hockey history from being made on their watch.
Crushing this division rival (and the 1st place team in the Metropolitan Division) seemed to really get the Flyers into gear as they began their push to finish out the season strong and make the playoffs. Following the win in DC, the Flyers would go 11-3-0 in their next 14 games before the NHL season was put on pause. This included another decisive victory against the Capitals; a 5-2 win on March 4th at Capital One Arena.
The February touchdown against the Washington Capitals provided Flyers fans with a glimpse of what the 2019-20 team could accomplish when they were firing on all cylinders. This memorable contest is one that will not be forgotten any time soon and is the perfect game to launch our Flyers Top Flyte series.
Mandatory Credit – © Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports