It was bad enough to be humiliated on the scoreboard by the Washington Capitals on national television but then the Flyers had injuries added to insult.
Tuesday night was a rough one all around for the Flyers, who saw both starting goaltender Carter Hart and right wing Cam Atkinson succumb to injuries in the first period of a 9-2 defeat at Capital One Arena.
Atkinson suffered a lower-body injury caused by an illegal board check performed by Washington hitman Tom Wilson. Atkinson lowered his frame just as Wilson crashed into him. That was it for Atkinson, the team’s leading scorer.
Hart, who had been bothered by a nagging injury the past couple weeks, appeared to have an issue with his right skate during the middle part of the period. But it turns out Hart was still in discomfort after the equipment repair and he was replaced by Martin Jones for the start of the second period.
One positive development: Rookie Bobby Brink picked up his first NHL point, an assist on James van Riemsdyk’s second goal with 3:34 to play.
“You don’t give up nine goals by just one area of your game lacking,’’ said interim head coach Mike Yeo after the shellacking. “There were a number of areas tonight. It’s extremely disappointing.’’
The Flyers spent most of the night handling the puck like a hot potato.
“We clearly were not good enough,’’ Yeo said. “As a result, especially against a good team. . .you know it’s a tough building to play in. It appeared like we were ready to start, I thought we had good energy off the hop and then turnovers fed their game. As they started to roll, we didn’t respond to it.’’
Jones, literally under siege from the moment he stepped on the ice at the start of the second period, was gracious to come out and address the media after the debacle.
“It’s tough on nights like that for sure,’’ he said. “But the other team is not going to let up, they’re going to keep playing. My focus has to be on just trying to make the next save. There were a lot of turnovers, pucks battles seemed to go their way.’’
The Caps took a 3-1 lead in the first period, on the strength of goals by Alexander Ovechkin (6:01), T.J. Oshie (11:24) and Martin Fehervary (13:16). On the flip side, only van Riemsdyk could respond for the Flyers (12:00).
Ovechkin scored career goal No. 776 when he drove in deep on the left side and managed to beat Hart to the near post. Oshie converted a John Carlson pass but JVR connected on an unassisted breakaway. Fehervary deked his way past Flyers rookie defenseman Ronnie Attard to restore the two-goal edge.
Several Flyers players finished minus-4 for the game but Attard had the dubious honor of “winning’’ that competition with a minus-5.
In the second period, Lars Eller scored at 6:39 to put Washington in front at 4-1. Then Conor Sheary was left wide open by the Flyers defense and Jones was left out to dry for another goal at 15:30.
Matt Irwin, Eller, Garnet Hathaway and Johan Larsson notched goals in the third period for the seven-goal victory.
The second goal by van Riemsdyk gives him 20 for the season, the seventh time he has reached that milestone in his career.
>Brink makes debut
The game marked the NHL debut of Brink. Yeo chose to give Brink, newly signed out of the University of Denver, plenty of playing time (5:09 in the first period), including some action on the power play.
During a first-intermission interview on ESPN, Brink noted his team got off to a rough start. But he noted it was exciting lining up against Ovechkin for the opening faceoff.
“It was pretty cool,’’ Brink said. “He’s one of the greatest players to ever play so it was something special.”
Yeo saw some promising signs.
“He looks really good,’’ Yeo said. “He’s got deception in his game. It’s hard to be happy about a lot of things in the game but happy for him to get a point there. I thought he added a lot to the power play tonight.’’
After the game, Brink was aware there wouldn’t be too much to celebrate regarding his first NHL point, given the 9-2 score.
“We didn’t get the result we wanted,’’ he said. “We have much more to our game, I think.’’
As for playing with talents such as van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes, he added: “They’re really good players. They make it easier on me, they tell me what to do, what’s going to be open, so I know where to look. It was definitely nice to play a game, it was a dream come true.’’
Yeo said he did not have an update on the Atkinson and Hart injuries but added, “obviously not good enough to play in the (rest of the) game. So I would consider them both doubtful for tomorrow (at home vs. New York Rangers).’’
Atkinson played in his 700th NHL game.