(Philadelphia, PA) – The Philadelphia Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 thanks to goals by Mike Richards and Danny Briere, but the Washington Capitals took over from there and forced a Game 7 with a 4-2 victory at the Wachovia Center on Monday night.
After scoring twice in the second period to tie the score, the Capitals used two goals by Alex Ovechkin to secure the victory.
The league’s leading goal scorer in the regular season with 65, Ovechkin had just one through five games and two periods in the series. His breakaway goal at 2:46 gave the Capitals their first lead of the contest, and his power play goal on a one-timer from the circle at 10:41 provided the insurance.
“The second period just went right off page,” said John Stevens. “[We] turned pucks over, didn’t get puck all the way in. They are a great transition team and when you don’t get pucks in, then you are doing them a favor, and we were doing them a big favor at the end there.
“There is nothing more we can do right now than to get rest. We will find out what we are made of [in Game 7].”
The teams will now meet in that decisive game on Tuesday night at the Verizon Center, where Washington has won two of the three games in the series. Philadelphia is 6-6 all-time in seventh games in its history.
“They have the momentum, but now we have the desperation,” said Richards. “Hopefully that motivates us to play a full game. We have not played our best hockey the last couple of games. Tomorrow night we will better.”
“We have to forget what happened tonight and leave it all on the ice over there tomorrow night,” added Briere. “We know we can win there. We did earlier in this series, and that is all that we have to think about.”
Trailing 3-2, the Flyers had a golden opportunity to get back into it with a five-on-three advantage for nearly a minute. Although they applied good pressure around the net, they couldn’t get a bounce to go their way before Ovechkin’s second goal of the game made it 4-2 later on.
Braydon Coburn almost gave Philadelphia the lead back in the first minute of the third period, but his wrist shot from the circle hit the inside of the post.
The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to a couple of power play goals. Richards got it going when he got the rebound off of the back boards of a shot by Kimmo Timonen at 3:49.
Philadelphia made it 2-0 early in the second, when Briere was left open in the faceoff circle. The NHL’s leading playoff scorer took a feed from Vaclav Prospal and picked the corner over Cristobal Huet’s shoulder at 1:18.
Washington would not go away, though, and tied the game before the intermission when the Flyers seemingly took their foot off of the gas pedal. First, on a three-on-two rush, a pretty passing play resulted in Nicklas Backstrom firing the puck past Martin Biron at 9:34.
The Capitals kept up the pressure in the Flyers’ zone, and when Biron was unable to hang on to a shot from the point by John Erskine, Alexander Semin tallied on the rebound to make it a 2-2 game.
“They played with desperation and were throwing everything at the net,” said Biron, who finished with 36 saves. “They skated hard and we got a little casual, and I think that hurt us.”
Briere continues to lead the NHL in playoff scoring with 10 points, but he, Prospal and Hartnell were each a -3 on the night.
Should Philadelphia win Tuesday, it would face the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while Washington would get the Pittsburgh Penguins if it advances. The Canadiens eliminated the Boston Bruins on Monday night in Game 7 of their series, 5-0.
Lasse Kukkonen returned to the lineup in place of Jaroslav Modry. … Riley Cote also returned to the lineup, as Mike Knuble missed the game with a hamstring injury suffered in Game 5. … Philadelphia had won its last seven at home, including five in the regular season. … The team that had scored first in each game in the series had won all five games before Game 6.