New coach, same result for the Philadelphia Flyers.
With Peter Laviolette making his Flyers debut behind the bench, Tomas Fleischmann and Mike Green scored two goals apiece, and Nicklas Backstrom added a goal and four assists, leading the streaking Washington Capitals to a 8-2 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night.
It was the seventh loss in eight games for the Flyers, who were considered to be a Stanley Cup contender before the season. Philadelphia fired coach John Stevens on Friday and hired Laviolette to replace him.
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Washington stormed ahead with three goals during a momentum-changing 9-minute power play that began at 14:33 of the first period and carried into the second. Dan Carcillo and Matt Bradley got into a shoving match at center ice, and Philadelphia’s Carcillo landed a big punch as Bradley was dropping his gloves.
“Obviously not the start we wanted,” defenseman Chris Pronger said. “Getting down 1-0, the battle back to finally get a goal and start feeling good about ourselves and shoot ourselves in the foot with a nine-minute penalty that ultimately led to (three) goals.
“From that you’re (4-1) and it starts to become pretty embarrassing. We struggled on penalty killing. Until we get that figured out, we’re going to be in this predicament again.”
The Southeast Division-leading Capitals didn’t miss two-time NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin, who served the final game of a two-game suspension. In winning its fifth straight, Washington set a season high in goals scored.
Philadelphia’s poor play continued. The Capitals took a 1-0 lead just 57 seconds in when Fleischmann knocked in a rebound off Brendan Morrison‘s slap shot.
Mika Pyorala tied it at 12:06, putting a rebound past goalie Jose Theodore and ending Philadelphia’s goal-less streak at 172 minutes, 10 seconds. The Flyers‘ previous goal was scored on Nov. 27 in the first period against Buffalo. They were shut out in consecutive losses to Atlanta and Vancouver before Stevens was fired.
The tide turned after Carcillo and Bradley tangled. Following Carcillo’s punch, Bradley fell to the ice and left the game. Despite being in the process of dropping his gloves, Bradley wasn’t penalized. Carcillo received 19 minutes and a game misconduct, resulting in the power play. The Flyers‘ 18 penalty minutes per game lead the NHL.
“I saw him drop his gloves, so I started punching,” said Carcillo, who spoke with Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren after the game. “It was pretty quick, and emotions took over. I’m not happy about it. I thought we were in a fight. I don’t know why he waited so long to drop his gloves. Once you see that, you’re in a fight, and you start punching.”
“I hadn’t dropped my gloves yet,” Bradley said. “Maybe it’s my fault for not expecting that, but I was willing to fight him. Obviously, I didn’t get started.”
Philadelphia captain Mike Richards said he spoke with Carcillo and reminded him about the consequences of undisciplined play.
“All I can do is hold people accountable in here, and I don’t think it will happen again,” he said.
With the advantage, Fleischmann scored his second goal of the game with 3:20 left in the period, on a wrist shot from just outside the circle that beat Ray Emery to the glove side. Just 20 seconds later, Green scored on a wrist shot from the top of the circle that sailed over Emery’s shoulder.
“Matt is one of the most popular players on the team, so when somebody takes liberties with him like that, I think the guys rallied around and wanted to make them pay,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We didn’t want this to be for nothing.”
The Flyers trailed 4-1 after the power play.
Emery was pulled in the second period after allowing a goal to Chris Clark. Brian Boucher came on and surrendered three more goals.
Laviolette, who led the Carolina Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup championship in 2006, wants the Flyers to be a more disciplined team.
“I’ve never seen a nine-minute power play,” he said. “My thought is the whole thing never should’ve happened. We got hit; we should’ve skated away and kept playing. There ended up being a confrontation. I didn’t see it after the two-minute original penalty which shouldn’t have happened because if we’re going to go to the (penalty) box in an undisciplined manner we’re not going to win hockey games.
“It should’ve been avoided.”
NOTES: The eight goals were the most scored by the Capitals this season and allowed by the Flyers.