WASHINGTON – Ilya Bryzgalov’s shutout, Eric Wellwood’s deflected goal, and coach Peter Laviolette’s well-timed timeout all helped the Philadelphia Flyers pick up a rare second consecutive victory.
Two-time league MVP Alex Ovechkin’s diminished ice time certainly didn’t have a positive effect on the Washington Capitals’ suddenly silent offence.
Wellwood scored 47 seconds after Laviolette gave his players an earful, Bryzgalov made 34 saves, and the Flyers beat the Capitals 1-0 on Sunday night for their first winning streak since January.
“We were watching a little bit too much,” Laviolette said, explaining why he called a timeout less than halfway through the second period. “It was more just to get them back on track than anything else. I thought they responded really well after that. Not just the goal, but the rest of the period.”
Wellwood, a rookie brought back up from the minors Saturday, said Laviolette “just wanted to get us going.”
“He didn’t think that we were playing to our true potential,” Wellwood said, “and he wanted some more jump from us.”
That might have been what Capitals coach Dale Hunter was attempting, too, when he limited Ovechkin to about four minutes in each of the first two periods, before letting him play about 8 1/2 in the third. Ovechkin called himself out for some poor play that led to the game’s only score at the 7:51 mark of the second period—”I try and make a play in the offensive zone, and it cost us a goal,” he said—but both he and Hunter insisted the captain’s line stayed on the bench more than usual simply because of matchups.
“Tough loss for us, I think,” Ovechkin said. “My mistake cost us two points and it cost us the game.”
He was held without a goal for the seventh time in his last 10 games. Washington has dropped two straight—both at home, both shutouts—following a three-game winning streak.
While the Capitals remained stuck in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one spot out of the playoff picture, Philadelphia moved within two points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for fourth.
The Flyers ended a dubious streak: In each of their past nine games, they had allowed the first goal.
Indeed, in Philadelphia’s previous outing, at home Thursday, it trailed the New York Islanders 1-0 after only 95 seconds, prompting Laviolette to call time and rip into his players. Worked that night, too: The Flyers came away with a 6-3 victory.
“We wanted to follow it up,” Philadelphia centre Danny Briere said. “It was always: good game, bad game, good game, bad game.”
Much of the credit for getting two victories in a row for the first time since Jan. 10-12 goes, of course, to Bryzgalov.
“It seems like he’s really starting to feel comfortable,” Laviolette said, “but tonight was the most comfortable he’s looked.”
Bryzgalov earned his third shutout of the season, and the 26th of his career, even though the Flyers were missing two defencemen who sat out with injuries: Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros.
The goalie deflected questions afterward.
“Stop worrying about me, guys,” he told reporters. “Seriously.”
It was an eventful, if scoreless, first period.
About 5 1/2 minutes into the game, Capitals forward Troy Brouwer decked Erik Gustafsson along the boards, then fought Scott Hartnell. A few minutes later, there was a near-skirmish right in front of Bryzgalov, with a half-dozen players pushing and shoving and yammering before the officials separated them.
Without Timonen and Meszaros—both out indefinitely with what the Flyers said are lower-body injuries—Bryzgalov needed to play well, and he did.
Making an eighth straight start, Bryzgalov was tested frequently, including when he made saves on shots by Alexander Semin and Mathieu Perreault in quick succession during the first period. About 7 minutes into the second, Capitals forward Mike Knuble broke behind the Flyers defence for a 1-on-1 chance, but Bryzgalov kickedthe puck aside.
Right after that, Laviolette called time and gave his players an animated talking-to, gesturing all the while.
Sure enough, less than a minute later, Wellwood deflected Pavel Kubina’s shot—with Ovechkin right there, but not doing much to try to get in the puck’s way—past Michal Neuvirth for his second goal in six games this season.
“To win a game on the road against a very good offensive team—to blank them, on top of it—it’s good for the mindset of the team,” Briere said. “It’s no secret, in the playoffs, this is the type of hockey that needs to be played if we want to win.”
If Ovechkin and the Capitals keep playing the way they have their past two games, they won’t even qualify for the playoffs.
NOTES: After the game, Philadelphia’s Jaromir Jagr hung out in a hallway in the arena and chatted with rookie first-round draft pick Jan Vesely of the NBA’s Washington Wizards. Both are from the Czech Republic. … Sitting out Sunday ended Timonen’s streak of consecutive games at 248, the Flyers’ longest active run. … Gustafsson was recalled from the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms on Sunday. … The Flyers hadn’t won a game 1-0 since Dec. 30, 2007, at Florida.