PHILADELPHIA – This Flyers’ road trip was their shortest one yet.
Concerned the Flyers would lose a winning attitude built over nearly four weeks on the road, coach Peter Laviolette took the unusual step of booking them a room for the afternoon at a local hotel.
They checked in, some dozed off, they ate a pre-game meal, then checked out for another familiar routine—a win.
Andrej Meszaros scored 1:07 into overtime to bail out the Flyers after they blew a third period lead and give Philadelphia a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night.
Meszaros ended OT with a wrist shot just outside the slot that beat Semyon Varlamov.
Laviolette sent his team to a hotel after morning skate to avoid what he called the “honey-do” lists that likely awaited them at home and served as a potential distraction against a conference rival.
“There’s something to the fact that when you get off road trips, you get home you get settled in, you play a flat game,” he said. “You’ve got to keep winning in the standings and don’t want to look back at a game like tonight and feel like you kicked up two points because you were flat.”
The Flyers were sensational for all but 40 seconds in the third when they blew a 2-0 lead.
Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux each scored for the Flyers.
The Flyers won only hours after they gave general manager Paul Holmgren a three-year contract extension. Holmgren has made one shrewd move after another the last five years to help put the Flyers atop the Eastern Conference.
The road-weary Flyers had played only one home game in 28 days and that was on Jan. 8. The Flyers even practised at the outdoor rink at Central Park a day before they played the Rangers.
They returned home with 63 points and the top spot in the East. They can build on that lead at home—Tuesday marked the start of eight of 10 games in Philadelphia, including four of five that lead into the all-star break.
Laviolette is a co-coach of one of the all-star teams—and Giroux is joining him.
Mike Knuble and Alex Ovechkin scored in the third period to rally the Capitals.
The Flyers showed why they’re the best in the East behind Sergei Bobrovsky in net. He stopped 12 shots over the first two periods and was in control against Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps.
“My confidence is back and I feel great,” Bobrovsky said.
Bobrovsky was cruising toward his first career shutout. He made two sweet stops on Jason Chimera—a glove save of a 2-on-1 play in the third a highlight.
All it took was 40 seconds for the lead to collapse.
Knuble, a former Flyers playoff star, scored his 11th goal to make it 2-1. Ovechkin quickly followed with his 16th goal, burning an out-of-position Bobrovsky for an easy look into the net.
The play was reviewed to see if Ovechkin knocked the puck in with his glove, but the goal stood.
“We played the third period the way we have to play all 60 minutes. Everyone in here understands that,” Ovechkin said. “If we work hard, and we use our skills, no one can stop us. In the first two periods, we didn’t do that.”
The Flyers wasted the lead—just not the game.
Meszaros scored only his second goal of the season to stun the Caps and keep the Flyers rolling.
Caps coach Bruce Boudreau lamented the slow start.
“You’d like to think it’s going to start a little earlier, but what are you going to do?” he said. “It’s frustrating for the players, it’s frustrating for the coaches, it’s frustrating for everybody.”
Not the Flyers, who rewarded Holmgren—the architect of a team that fell two wins shy of winning the Stanley Cup last season.
Carter wasted little time giving the fans something to cheer for when he scored his 20th goal on a wraparound past Michal Neuvirth only 1:31 into the game.
Neuvirth left at the end of the first period with alower body injury.
Carter fed Giroux in the slot and he knocked in his own rebound to make it 2-0 with 6:22 left in the second period.
“That’s probably why we won, we stayed at the hotel,” Giroux laughed.
Notes: The Flyers are 2-1 this season vs. the Capitals. … Knuble played four years with the Flyers and played in 24 playoff games. … Holmgren had one more year left on his contract.