(Washington, DC) – Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Semin each tallied a goal and an assist as the Washington Capitals held off the Philadelphia Flyers’ comeback attempt to win, 3-2.
The Flyers trailed 2-1 entering the final period and came out of the gates hard, but were unable to get the equalizer. Vaclav Prospal had the best chance when he was alone in front of the net with the puck, but couldn’t get a handle on it and it was knocked away.
Philadelphia’s momentum was halted due to three straight penalties, though, and Semin gave Washington back its two-goal cushion with 5:27 remaining in regulation. His wrist shot on the power play beat Martin Biron, who was screened by no less than five players in front of him.
It proved to be an important goal. Derian Hatcher found Huet’s five hole less than a minute later, bringing the Flyers back to within one. They kept up the pressure in the Washington zone, and almost tied it on Danny Briere’s one-timer try with four seconds left, but it was knocked away and time expired.
Philadelphia had 21 shots on goal in the third period to Washington’s six. Overall, the Flyers outshot the Capitals 32-26.
The Flyers also suffered an injury in the game, as Game 4 hero Mike Knuble hurt his hamstring and will be out for at least the rest of the series.
Game 6 is back at the Wachovia Center, where Philadelphia has won seven straight overall, on Monday night (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
“Our crowd has been terrific at home and we’ve been a good team down the stretch [at home],” said John Stevens. “We’re excited about the opportunity to go home with a chance to close this out.”
“It’s going to be important that we realize they’re still going to come out strong and we have to match that effort like we did in the third period here tonight,” added Scottie Upshall.
The Flyers began the game with a couple of prime scoring chances, but Cristobal Huet stopped Mike Knuble on the doorstep on a Flyers power play, and slid across the crease to get his pad on a partial breakaway by Briere five minutes into the game.
Washington took advantage, and controlled play for the rest of the period. During a two-man advantage, Semin spotted Nicklas Backstrom at the side of the net for an easy goal at 7:31.
The Capitals outshot Philadelphia 12-4 over the first 20 minutes, and were credited with 22 hits in that span. They continued to press at the start of the second, and grabbed their first two-goal lead of the series when Fedorov backhanded one above Biron’s shoulder from the slot at 1:25.
“Their season was on the line and they came out and came out us hard,” said Stevens. “It’s a lesson we learned that won’t happen again. We have to come out and initiate. We did a lot of good things as the game progressed, but it was going their way the first half of the hockey game.”
“We were catching up most of the game. It’s not that easy in a playoff game to come back from a 2-0 deficit,” said Prospal. “Even though we had some quality chances at the end of the game, we didn’t manage to tie the game.”
The Flyers were able to get back into the game on a five-on-three goal of their own on a pretty passing play between Mike Richards, Briere and Prospal, who fired the puck into the open net at 12:35.
Briere, who also assisted on Hatcher’s goal, has nine points in the series to give him the NHL scoring lead in the postseason.
“These guys came out hard tonight and they wanted it a little bit more than us early in the game,” said Briere. “Ultimately, that’s where it cost us because we were trailing the whole game.”
The Flyers dressed the same lineup as they had in games three and four. … Knuble four-game point streak came to an end. … Philadelphia is 16-2 in its history when leading a playoff series three games to two.