PHILADELPHIA – Alex Ovechkin stood alone on the ice in front of the Philadelphia net waiting for the puck.
Great positioning for the reigning MVP, big mistake for Philadelphia. A quick Flyers turnover behind the net led to one more goal for Ovechkin and another road win for the Capitals. He scored his NHL-leading 48th goal, added an assist and helped the Washington Capitals beat the Flyers 2-1 on Thursday night.
Flyers goalie Martin Biron never saw Ovechkin’s 10th game-winner of the season.
“Ovechkin’s the last guy you want alone in front of your goalie,” Flyers coach John Stevens said.
Is he ever.
Ovechkin was held in check by the Flyers in their first three meetings this season, with only one goal and three assists against the team that eliminated Washington from last year’s playoffs.
He had an assist in the first period, then scored the go-ahead goal in the second to lift the Capitals to their fifth straight road victory. Washington hadn’t won five straight on the road since Feb. 14-March 6, 2001 – when Ovechkin was 16.
“On the road, we’re not trying to impress anybody. We’re just trying to win,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “At home sometimes you get too cute and try to make the great play. Whatever the situation is, I’d like to continue this formula.”
The Flyers appeared to have tie it game midway though the third when Kimmo Timonen’s slapper sailed past goalie Jose Theodore, but the goal was waved off by officials when forward Mike Knuble was whistled for interference.
Theodore was stout from there and finished with 35 saves. Theodore said a simple shift in the game plan has the Capitals building on their road successes.
“We were trying too hard to score goals and now we’re focusing on our defensive game and it’s paying off,” he said.
Theodore was primed to face Simon Gagne on a breakaway, but Mike Green caught him from behind and pried the puck loose. The fans howled in protest, hoping for a penalty that was never called.
“He slowed me down just enough to give them time to get me,” Gagne said.
The Flyers had Danny Briere back in the lineup after a two-game absence because of lingering groin injuries, but their two-game winning streak was snapped.
Martin Biron took the loss, but made 28 saves and continued to solidify himself as Philadelphia’s No. 1 goalie down the stretch and into the playoffs. He followed 27-and 31-save efforts in back-to-back wins with another good effort that included 11 saves in the second period.
He just couldn’t stop Ovechkin.
“They made some big hits against us, but we knew it was going to be a hard game,” Ovechkin said. “It’s going to be a physical game and we were ready for it. We didn’t want to try to play like them.”
That was a good idea in the second.
Ovechkin’s goal was as much the fault of Flyers mistakes than anything Biron did. Darroll Powe appeared to try to clear the puck out from behind the net, when it was picked off by Alexander Semin. Semin made a quick pass in front to Ovechkin, who buried the wrister high past Biron for the 2-1 lead.
“He’s not going to put it in my belly, he’s going to put it under the bar and that’s what he did,” Biron said.
Ovechkin had an assist on Brooks Laich’s 17th goal in the first period. Laich redirected Ovechkin’s shot from the circle past Biron for a 1-0 lead with 4:03 left.
The Flyers tied it midway through the second on a nicely executed 2-on-1. Mike Richards faked a slapper, and directed a perfect cross-ice pass to a streaking Knuble for his 24th goal.
That was all the Flyers could muster as they lost against Washington in regulation for the first time this season.
“I thought we created an awful lot of good chances and could have won the game,” Stevens said.
Notes: Ovechkin has a point in nine straight games. … Semin has a point in eight straight games. … Capitals F Donald Brashear, a former Flyers enforcer, sat out with a sprained knee. Sergei Fedorov also was a late scratch with an illness.