Two NHL Metropolitan Division rivals told a tale at the Wells Fargo Center as the young Philadelphia Flyers (16-10-3) hosted the more veteran-led Washington Capitals (14-8-4). In the end, Bobby Brink potted the game-winning goal in the shootout.
This game featured important implications for the Metropolitan Division standings. The Flyers create three points of separation from the Capitals but remain in third place, trailing the New York Islanders in point percentage.
Washington pushed the pace for most of the game, but Philadelphia picked up the momentum late in the third period and carried it throughout their overtime affairs.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Washington Capitals
These teams were going to battle from the get-go. Little happened in the first period, but Garnet Hathaway made his presence known against his former team. Offensively, the Flyers registered only three shots on goal. Martin Fehervary served a minor penalty for holding, but Philadelphia didn’t convert. Sean Couturier and Hathaway each served minor penalties for high sticking and an illegal check to the head, respectively.
One period down, two more to go. Things were just getting interesting.
The player who would later score the game-winner also scored the first goal. Brink put the rebound chance past Charlie Lindgren from a shot fired by Marc Staal for the 1-0 lead with 17:46 remaining in the second period.
As lovely a lead as it was, the Flyers giveth and the Capitals tooketh away. Less than a minute (:46) later, Connor McMichael went backhand then forehand on Sam Ersson, 1-1, with 17 minutes remaining in the second period.
Washington was able to crack an elite penalty-killing unit. Dylan Strome snuck a pass through Travis Sanheim, and Tom Wilson had an easy finish on a slightly overcommitted Ersson, 2-1, with 4:31 remaining in the second period.
Philadelphia had a two-man advantage they couldn’t convert, finishing the evening 0/5 on the powerplay. Joel Edmundson and McMichael were in the box for tripping and hooking, and the five-on-three carried into the third period. After two periods, the Capitals led shot totals, 18-15.
Joel Farabee gave the Flyers a fighting chance, swooping on a wraparound after winning a puck battle on the forecheck, 2-2, with 14:35 remaining in the third period. It was his 11th of the season.
“He’s [Farabee] been plugging away. He loses ice time when I don’t have him on the powerplay when I’m not using him killing penalties; [I’m] trying to get him on the ice more five-on-five tonight. I’m sure he wants to be on one of those special teams, but he has shut his mouth and just played.”John Tortorella; 12/14/2023
Literally, an unlucky break put Philadelphia down with 9:05 left in the third period. Aliaksei Protas broke his stick on a shot attempt, but the puck sailed directly to Strome, who buried the chance from the side of the net, 3-2. The situation seemed dire for the Flyers, but this wasn’t their first rodeo.
Owen Tippett was the man of the moment at 2:59 remaining in regulation. He fired a wrist shot from long range through traffic, congested by Sanheim, and past Lindgren, 3-3. It was the 10th of the season for Tippett, forcing overtime hockey.
In overtime, the Capitals dominated possession but couldn’t beat Ersson. Lindgren also made a critical save, denying Cam Atkinson on a breakaway.
“We need more from Cam [Atkinson]. We need him to score. He needs to score in regulation. I believe it will come. We moved Poehls [Poehling] there, Laughts [Laughton] fought it tonight a little bit; coming off a road trip, some guys fought it worse than others. We moved Poehls there and I thought that line was much better that time. [That’s] certainly not a criticism of Laughts. It just seemed to help a little bit of energy. I thought Cam played better then.”John Tortorella; 12/14/2023
Ending in a shootout, Couturier and T.J. Oshie traded goals, and then Ersson and Lindgren exchanged saves. Lindgren tried the same move that worked on Tyson Foerster against Brink and paid for it. Brink allowed Lindgren to make the aggressive first move, then scored on an open net. Anthony Mantha couldn’t keep the game alive, and Ersson shut down the Capitals to earn the 4-3 victory.
John Tortorella, postgame, admitted that while it was a rough game, consistently finding a way to win remains key for this club:
“It’s a good win for us because you need to try and win those games. You’re not always going to be perfect and we’ve been at a pretty good pace; we’re playing pretty consistent hockey. Had to win a different way tonight and we did.”John Tortorella; 12/14/2023
The shootout win extends the point streak for Philadelphia to seven (5-0-2).
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Detroit Red Wings at 7pm on December 16th.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)