WASHINGTON - The thrills and spills started early, with a goal and two penalties in the first 3 1/2 minutes.
The Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals put on a performance featuring plenty of hard hits and 10 goals, including one from the NHL's first US$100-million man. The Flyers remained the hotter of the streaking teams with a 6-4 victory Sunday.
"It was a good hockey game," said Philadelphia centre Mike Richards, who converted a rebound that slowed the Capitals' comeback bid in the third period. "Everyone played hard.
"There were some hits, scoring. Everything that you'd want in a hockey game, there was today. They're playing really well right now; we're playing really well right now."
Mike Knuble had his first two-goal game of the season, and Jim Dowd, R.J. Umberger and Kimmo Timonen also scored for the Flyers, who have won seven of nine and rebounded from an overtime loss at home to Boston on Saturday.
"It can be tough to come back the next day," Knuble said. "But we regrouped really well and didn't hang our heads when we were down 1-0."
In a game of wild swings, the Flyers took a 4-1 lead and chased goalie Olie Kolzig in the second period. The Capitals cut the deficit to 4-3 before Richards scored with 11:37 remaining in the game to restore Philadelphia's two-goal lead.
Michael Nylander's 200th NHL goal with 6:51 to play pulled the Capitals to within one, but Timonen scored into an empty net in the final minute.
Alex Ovechkin notched his 33rd goal of the season in his first game since signing a 13-year, $124-million contract, and Alexander Semin and Mike Green also scored for the Capitals, who had won four of five and were hoping to make the most of their season-high, five-game homestand to get into playoff contention.
"There was a lot of try there, but we made too many mistakes," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We talk about it, we look at it, we work on it.
"In our zone, we talk about turnovers. I think they got every goal off turnovers."
The Flyers were playing their third game in four days, while the Capitals had played only once in seven days. The extra rest didn't seem to help, especially on special teams. Washington went 0-for-5 on the power play and allowed a short-handed goal. The Flyers were 1-for-3.
"Always seems to be too cute," Boudreau said of Washington's power play. "It starts with shots and you make plays.
"If you want to make five passes and score, that doesn't happen. It might happen once every 10 to 15 times, but if it only happens once every 10 to 15 times, your percentage is pretty low."
Philadelphia goalie Martin Biron was screened on Semin's slapshot from the right circle to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead, but Knuble scored on two rebounds later in the period. He poked his stick behind Kolzig's skate on the first one and fired a wrist shot on the second.
In the second, Dowd scored a short-handed goal, and Umberger's slapshot from the left circle put the Capitals in a three-goal deficit. Boudreau then removed Kolzig for Brent Johnson, who made his first appearance since spraining his knee against Pittsburgh on Dec. 27.
Washington responded with two quick goals - Green's high slap shot through a screen and Ovechkin's rocket from the left circle. Johnson did his part by leaning backward to get a glove on the puck after Simon Gagne appeared to have an open net to put in a rebound.
But the rebound was again kind to the Flyers in the third. Richards scored after Johnson's save on Steve Downie, and Richards and Downie - who were skating toward each other anyway - quickly embraced.
Notes: Captain Chris Clark returned for the Capitals after missing 18 games with a groin injury, but he was able to play only nine minutes. He said he tweaked the groin, but indicated that it wasn't a serious setback. ... D Tom Poti, who had missed three games with an upper body injury, also returned for Washington. ... Kolzig made his 11th straight start.