WASHINGTON – While the standings say the Flyers are still a point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals, both teams know who the boss is right now.
After Wednesday night’s 5-2 win at Capital One Arena, raising the Flyers domination to 3-0-1 over the Caps this season, it’s clearly evident the Flyers no longer fear these guys.
Trailing 1-0 after one period, the Flyers scored three unanswered goals in the second period and cruised home from there, sending a rather clear message to the 2018 Stanley Cup champions that they’re in a dogfight for division supremacy the rest of the season.
In that middle frame, Travis Konecny, Kevin Hayes and Tyler Pitlick scored for the Flyers, who extended their season-best winning streak to seven games.
In the post-game locker room, a number of Flyers agreed with the idea that the Flyers have now made a statement to the Capitals with their play in the season series.
“Every time we play them it’s a battle,’’ Ivan Provorov said. “We seem to get up for those games, be on top of our game. Especially this year.’’
Goaltender Brian Elliott, now 12-5-2 on the road, played a big part in this one, too, winning his second straight in the nation’s capital on the heels of a 7-2 win back on Feb. 8.
“Everybody is supporting each other,’’ was Elliott’s explanation. “I know it sounds like a broken record, but when you’re playing good hockey, you’re doing the same things consistently on a nightly basis.’’
Konecny tied the score at 7:06 of the second on a power play just moments after the right wing had a goal disallowed.
The tying goal started with Provorov firing a shot from the point that was stopped by goalie Braden Holtby. The rebound hit Konecny in the midsection and the Flyer was able to corral it and put it back in the net.
“Honestly, I don’t remember the full play,’’ Konecny said. “I just remember the puck coming to the net and it was kind of a lucky bounce. The puck hit me in the stomach area and dropped right down on my stick and I had an easy spot to put it in.”
The goal was Konecny’s 24th of the season, tying a career high.
Getting it against the Caps made it a little more fun.
“I mean, they’re a great team,’’ Konecny said. “But we’re just coming every night. We stay humble, we can’t care who we’re playing against. We play with confidence, with speed and we play those guys the way we play everyone else and you know it’s going to pay off for you.’’
A heady play by Derek Grant, who was covered by ex-Flyer Radko Gudas, led to the Hayes goal.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel sent the puck toward the net. Grant stuck his skate out and deflected it to Hayes for an easy put-away. The goal came at 14:48.
Grant’s only been here a little over a week but he’s been around long enough to know the Flyers have the Caps’ number right now.
“Absolutely,’’ he said. “Anytime you’re playing a division rival who is at the top, you know they’re huge games. It’s a tight race and we want to win every game, whether it’s message-sending or showing that we’re a really good hockey team.’’
Pitlick was the beneficiary of an excellent rush by Michael Raffl, who raced past a sliding Gudas and fed Pitlick for the third goal.
Washington came back to score with 1:28 to play in the period to bring the Capitals to within a goal but Provorov scored at 6:36 of the third to restore the two-goal lead.
Later, Scott Laughton scored his 13th goal of the season, a career high.
The Flyers are 37-0-3 when either ahead or tied after two periods.
Philadelphia successfully killed all five Washington power plays and for the season, 16 of 17.
Konecny had the aforementioned goal disallowed at 5:55 of the second period. Konecny thought he had shot the puck under Holtby but the refs lost sight of the puck and did not overturn the call on video review.
This was the seventh straight game the Flyers have scored at least four goals, the first streak of that length since 1992. The Flyers raised their road record to over .500 (16-15-2) for the season.
Coach Alain Vigneault appears to have his team on cruise control at the moment. Taking seven of eight points from the Caps doesn’t seem like all that big a deal to him.
“These have been some hard-fought games,’’ Vigneault said. “These are games for men. Guys are battling hard, not a lot of friendship going on. At the end of the day, though, we haven’t done anything yet.’’
>Van Riemsdyk injured
James van Riemsdyk left the game at 10:42 of the first period with a hand injury and did not return. Vigneault later confirmed van Riemsdyk suffered a fracture but did not know the severity. He said Joel Farabee will be recalled from the Phantoms for Thursday night’s game against the Carolina Panthers.