Capitals turn flyers aside to end a long journey

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PHILADELPHIA — The travel-weary Washington Capitals arrived here after nearly two weeks on the road for the finale of their longest trip of the season. Her modest ambition was to beat the lowly Philadelphia Flyers to take her record to .500.

A 4-1 win that included a third-half goal by Dylan Strome and two empty nets by Alex Ovechkin to seal the deal had the Capitals cheering — and singing — in the visitors’ locker room at the Wells Fargo Center instead. Happy Birthday” to coach Peter Laviolette.

“The win was a good gift,” said Laviolette, who turned 58 after Washington accumulated seven points from a possible 12 on the six-game journey and leveled his record at 12-12-4.

Strome’s decisive goal, his sixth goal of the season, came with 10:41 to go. He redirected John Carlson’s floating wrist shot past Flyers goalie Carter Hart. Ovechkin added career goals Nos. 794 and 795 to earn a tie within seven points before overtaking Gordie Howe for the second-most goal of all time.

Ovechkin has 51 goals without a goal, the second most in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky’s 56. His second goal on Wednesday, 8.6 seconds from time, drew the ire of Philadelphia’s Travis Konecny, who shoved Ovechkin and some had harsh words. Konecny ​​was handed a 10-minute misconduct penalty as the Flyers fell to 9-13-5.

“They lost,” said Ovechkin. “You have character. You have a good group of guys. Obviously frustrated. Big two points. We continue. I always say we have to collect the points.”

Final time out: Nic Dowd lets Caps capitalize late for an uplifting win in Edmonton

Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves for the Capitals and dodged some drama when the Flyers’ Kevin Hayes hit the pipe late in the third half when a goal would have leveled it at 2. Lindgren scored his second consecutive win in place of ailing starter Darcy Kuemper.

After Hayes scored a power play goal late in the first period, the Capitals even drew early in the second on their fourth power play opportunity when TJ defeated Oshie Hart with a one-timer from a Strome assist. The Capitals had the advantage after Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk was sent off for tripping. It was Oshie’s fifth goal of the season and his fourth on the power play.

The Flyers dominated the remainder of the period, with the Capitals’ weary legs showing the effects of the long journey. Washington didn’t buckle from the fatigue, however, and held on to the score despite continued heavy pressure from Philadelphia.

In a penalty-filled first period, the Flyers batted 4-14 from steps inside the blue line courtesy of Hayes’ palm shot to play. Hayes’ ninth goal of the season came in the closing stages of Philadelphia’s second power play with a spare batter, having just broken his original hit.

Two power plays for Washington plus the start of a third that lasted into the second half proved fruitless, although Ovechkin had a direct look off his knees that got behind Hart and bounced off the bar.

The Capitals faced their first adversity early in the first half when Oshie was called out to hook at 4:19. Washington’s penalty continued its recent upward trend by limiting the Flyers to two marginal chances, with Lindgren comfortably controlling the second bid. Washington went into the game eighth in the league on penalties (80.8 percent).

Just under seven minutes later, the Capitals had their first power play after Nick Seeler pitted to hook. Ovechkin attempted two man-advantage shots – only the first of which got through to Hart, who saved easily.

Here’s what else you should know about the Capitals win:

Capitals GM Brian MacLellan was “concerned” about his team’s lackluster start

The injury-hit Capitals will have a full day off Thursday to recover from a trip that took them across three time zones. Before Washington returned to the States in the early hours of Tuesday, Washington had games scheduled in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, where the Capitals won 3-2 on Monday.

Notable injuries during the trip that left Washington further exhausted included defenseman Martin Fehervary (upper body) and Kümper (upper body). Both were injured in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Flames.

The Capitals have been without defenseman Dmitry Orlov since early November with a lower body injury. Center Nicklas Backstrom (hip) and winger Tom Wilson (knee) have not played this season. Backstrom recently went ice skating and is expected to do so Friday morning before tonight’s game against the Seattle Kraken at Capital One Arena.

“We’re happy with how we ended,” Ovechkin said. “Now we go home, refresh our minds, stay with our families and move on.”

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