Vrana scores twice, Capitals hand Flyers 8th straight loss
WASHINGTON (AP) — Jakub Vrana scored twice to set a career high in goals and added an assist to help the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 Tuesday night and hand their division rivals their eighth consecutive loss.
Vrana showed off his speed on his first goal and ended the defending Stanley Cup champions’ 0-for-12 power-play drought with his second. He reached a career-best 14 goals in Washington’s 42nd game.
The 22-year-old winger assisted on Tom Wilson’s goal early in the first period as the Capitals scored on their first shot against journeyman goaltender Mike McKenna. When McKenna got the start, the Flyers tied an NHL record by using their seventh goalie of the season, a feat accomplished just three previous times.
McKenna allowed four goals on 25 shots, becoming the seventh Philadelphia goalie to register a loss through 43 games. The Flyers have lost 13 of their past 16 and are second-last in the NHL with 36 points.
T.J. Oshie also scored twice — including an empty-netter with 2.1 seconds left — for the Capitals, who won their second in a row to bounce back from a three-game skid. Backup goaltender Pheonix Copley made a season-high 37 saves to pick up his 10th victory of the season.
Washington was outshot and outplayed during the first period and beyond but capitalized on several mistakes by Philadelphia, which again unraveled to fall to 3-7-2 under interim coach Scott Gordon. Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers, with the final two goals coming long after the outcome was decided.
Despite missing center Nicklas Backstrom, who was out with an illness, the Capitals broke out of a 1-for-31 dry spell on the power play on Vrana’s shot from a bad angle that beat McKenna. Vrana recorded his second career multigoal game and picked up three points for the first time.
NOTES: C Nic Dowd replaced Backstrom in the lineup. ... Copley started for the fifth time in 11 games as Washington manages All-Star Braden Holtby’s workload. ... Gordon said he started McKenna to give 20-year-old Carter Hart a rest after playing twice in three days. ... Simmonds was ejected with a 10-minute misconduct with 2:04 remaining. ... F Phil Varone replaced Jordan Weal in the Flyers’ lineup.
Flyers: Look to avoid a ninth consecutive loss when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
Capitals: Visit the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
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