Jakub Vrana’s three points power Capitals over Flyers
The visiting team was on its seventh goaltender of the season, and before long, it showed.
Jakub Vrana set up the Washington Capitals’ first goal, then scored twice in the second period to lead them to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 Tuesday night at Capital One Arena.
T.J. Oshie also scored twice, Tom Wilson added a goal and John Carlson posted two assists for Washington. Pheonix Copley made a career-high 37 saves in his 10th win of the season.
The Flyers have fought through injuries and an overall history of incompetence in net, and recent waiver claim Mike McKenna made his first start for Philadelphia on Tuesday making Philadelphia the fourth team in NHL history to use seven goalies in a season.
The Capitals exploited those defensive cracks, particularly with three goals in the second period, and finished with five or more goals for the 13th time this year. They improved to 26-12-4 and held onto the Metropolitan Division lead over Pittsburgh for the night.
Vrana won a defensive zone faceoff and pushed down the left side of the rink himself to set up the first goal. His centering pass found Wilson waiting at the crease, and the right winger scored his 13th goal of the year.
Later in the first, Michal Kempny turned the puck over in the neutral zone, leading to a 2-on-1 Philadelphia breakaway and a Jakub Voracek goal to tie the game.
The Capitals only mustered four shots on goal in the first period, not taking advantage of the 35-year-old McKenna.
But Oshie put the Capitals back ahead 9:19 into the second period. He redirected an Eller wrister right past McKenna to the left pipe.
After that, it was the Vrana show. He stole the puck from Sean Couturier, the Flyers’ top center, in Philadelphia’s zone and broke away for the remaining two-thirds of the rink to score. Then, on a power play, Vrana shot on McKenna at an oblique angle, and the goalie mishandled it near the five-hole and kicked it in behind him.
The goals were Vrana’s 13th and 14th of the season, which tied and then surpassed his career high set a season ago as a rookie. The Czech is also Washington’s second-leading scorer now, behind only Alex Ovechkin’s league-high 30-goals.
While playing 6-on-5 late in a defensive third period, Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux scored for Philadelphia, but the latter came with seven seconds left and it never felt like a real chance at a comeback. Oshie added an empty-netter with two seconds to go.
Washington was without Nicklas Backstrom, who was scratched due to an illness.
The Capitals take a quick trip to play the Boston Bruins Thursday before hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets, a more competitive Metro Division foe than Philadelphia, Saturday night in Washington.