If the Philadelphia Flyers are going to climb back into the playoff race they must beat the teams ahead of them. The Flyers had that opportunity Sunday afternoon as they traveled to the Verizon Center to take on Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. The result was a big 3-1 victory for the orange-and-black, but it came with a huge price as goalie Steve Mason left the game with an injury in the second period. The team said he had a lower-body injury and would return to Philadelphia instead heading to Montreal with the rest of the team. General Manager Ron Hextall said he most likely would not return for the rest of the road trip, which also includes stops in Columbus and Buffalo before returning home.
The teams played a scoreless first period in which the only real entertainment was a fight between Flyers rookie Scott Laughton and Washington’s Matt Niskanen. Laughton wanted revenge after a clean hit by Niskanen in the teams’ last meeting gave him a concussion. Laughton would miss the next eight games and this was just his second game since being cleared to play. The Flyers controlled play throughout the game, with the Capitals just not being able to get much going. Just fifty seconds into the second period Mark Streit scored the first goal, his 8th of the season to give the Flyers the lead. Ovechkin would score his 33rd goal at 13:29 to tie the game. Ovechkin is now tied for the league lead in goals scored. Ray Emery replaced the injured Mason at 11:18 of the period. Mason saved all eight shots he faced. Emery faced six shots with five saves.
Wayne Simmonds would score the game-winning goal at 3:50 of the third period. It was his 19th goal of the season. Jakub Voracek added a power play empty net goal with 37 seconds left to seal the victory for the Flyers. The goal was Voracek’s 18th and he remains tied for the league lead in points. With the win the Flyers stay on the fringes of the playoff race but even the General Manager has conceded they have very little chance of making them. Wins like today help but now they must finish the road trip without perhaps their most important player in Mason, who gives them a chance to win every night but has been injury prone this season.