Washington Capitals

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault will enjoy his martini ... for now

Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault will enjoy his martini ... for now

Alain Vigneault’s Flyers had just wrapped up a nail-biting win over the best team in the NHL.

He watched his club kill five penalties against the league’s most feared power play in the last 20 years.

His group was in dire need of a reason to feel good about itself after a 1-4-1 road trip.

Following the 3-2 win Wednesday night over the Capitals, the head coach was asked how baffling the home-road disparity has been for the Flyers.

But he wasn’t ready to think about the road again. The team’s trip was long, unsuccessful and chaotic. Just as the Flyers finished it Tuesday, they were playing the league’s No. 1 team the very next night.

So Vigneault had plans to toast this victory. Who could blame him?

Right now, I’m going home tonight, I’m going to have a martini,” he said with a smile. “I’m going to enjoy the win and I’m going to get back to that. Our next game is at home so I’m focused on the homestand right now.

No doubt, Vigneault deserved that martini. The Flyers have earned three of a possible four points against the Capitals this season. In 2018-19, they were owned by Washington, losing all four matchups by a combined score of 18-9. The Flyers are 8-2-3 against the division this season after going 10-16-2 vs. Metropolitan teams last season.

Strong improvements so far.

On top of that, the Flyers currently sport the NHL’s best points percentage at home (.800), going 14-2-4 with a plus-36 goal differential through 20 games. They’re 23-15-6 overall and in playoff position thanks to those impressive home figures.

And Wednesday night’s victory kicked off a stretch of six of the Flyers’ next seven games coming at the Wells Fargo Center.

"For us, this was an important win,” Vigneault said. “Everybody knows we struggled on the road. Coming back home, playing hard, this was a real character win for us tonight. We’re going to take a day off, breathe a little bit and get ready for a big, tough game against Tampa."

Eventually, though, the Flyers will have to figure out that road thing. They are 9-13-2 with a minus-31 goal differential away from home. They allow nearly two more goals per game on the road (3.83) compared to at home (1.95).

“Can I go have my martini?” Vigneault asked with a laugh at the end of his postgame press conference Wednesday night.

The head coach was going to enjoy it.

But he’s cognizant of the road ahead. The Flyers know they can’t always count on a martini at home.

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Flyers take down NHL-best Capitals in impressive fashion

Flyers take down NHL-best Capitals in impressive fashion

BOX SCORE

Home is exactly what the Flyers needed.

In their return to the Wells Fargo Center following a discouraging 1-4-1 road trip, the Flyers knocked off the NHL-leading Capitals with a 3-2 win Wednesday night.

The Flyers (23-15-6) got a big-time victory and needed it for their psyche more than anything else. The Flyers are 14-2-4 with a plus-36 goal differential at home.

In 2018-19, the Flyers were throttled by the Capitals, losing all four meetings by a combined score of 18-9. In 2019-20, they've taken three of four possible points from Washington.

The Capitals (30-10-5) had won the last five meetings with the Flyers and came in with more road victories (17) than any NHL team had at home.

• The Flyers were ticked off with the officiating late in the second period of a 2-2 game.

Sean Couturier appeared to take a high stick from Tom Wilson but the Flyers did not receive a whistle. Seconds later, a frustrated Couturier was called for slashing to put the Capitals on the power play.

The Flyers took their anger out on the penalty kill as Kevin Hayes broke free for the decisive go-ahead shorthanded goal 26 seconds later (see highlights).

• Speaking of the Flyers' penalty kill, it was excellent against Washington's vaunted power play. The Capitals have had the NHL's top power play percentage since 2000 but went 0 for 5 against the Flyers.

Even more impressively, the Flyers pulled it off with Couturier going to the box twice. Philippe Myers also committed a pair of penalties.

Hayes, Scott Laughton, Matt Niskanen, Ivan Provorov and company were active, not letting Washington get organized too often, which is when it's so dangerous. The Flyers built momentum off their penalty kill and it was the difference.

• Niskanen and Provorov both made clutch third-period plays in the defensive zone to break up scoring chances.

• The Capitals can carve up coverages better than anyone in the NHL.

They broke the Flyers down twice in the first period.

On the first goal, Alex Ovechkin muscled Travis Sanheim into a turnover and Washington capitalized.

On the second goal, Carter Hart allowed a juicy rebound and the Capitals made the Flyers pay.

Hart settled in, though, and was sharp over the final 40 minutes with 26 total saves, many of which were timely.

Big confidence boost for Hart following the road trip in which he allowed 15 goals in four appearances.

The 21-year-old improved to 12-1-2 with 23 goals allowed at home this season.

• Travis Konecny and Robert Hagg put the Flyers on the board in the first period.

Couturier, always on his toes defensively, stripped the puck to create Konecny's goal, while Hagg tied the game at 2-2 with 42 seconds left in the frame on his first marker of the season.

• Since the beginning of December, Joel Farabee had played only 3:58 on the power play.

He was back on the man advantage Wednesday, a good opportunity to spark the 19-year-old offensively. He has two points (both assists) in his last 13 games.

• Shayne Gostisbehere was out with a knee injury and here's what that could mean for the Flyers' defense (see story).

• The Flyers hosted Pride Night at the Wells Fargo Center.

• The Flyers are off Thursday and practice Friday at 11:30 a.m. in Voorhees, New Jersey, before welcoming the Lightning Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

Tampa Bay has won eight straight and plays Thursday before visiting the Wells Fargo Center.

 

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Flyers vs. Capitals: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Capitals: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Updated: 7:14 p.m.

The Flyers don't exactly come home to a warm welcome.

In the second game of a back-to-back set, the Flyers (22-15-6) return to the Wells Fargo Center to face the NHL-leading Capitals (30-9-5) Wednesday.

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

• The Flyers called up Mark Friedman from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley on Wednesday and loaned Andy Andreoff to the Phantoms.

Last season, the 2014 third-round pick Friedman made his NHL debut when he was recognized by the front office with a call-up for Game 82. The 24-year-old plays with an edge and has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) and a plus-3 rating in his third season with the Phantoms.

With Justin Braun (groin) sidelined until after the Jan. 24-26 All-Star break and Shayne Gostisbehere (knee) out Wednesday (and possibly longer), the Flyers have six healthy defensemen.

• The Flyers are coming off a 1-4-1 road trip in which they were outscored 28-16 and allowed 15 first-period goals.

At home, the Flyers have allowed only 37 goals in 19 games (an NHL-low 1.95 per game) to sport a 13-2-4 record.

Carter Hart is 11-1-2 with a 1.49 goals-against average and .947 save percentage at home.

• The Capitals are the only NHL team with 30 or more wins and own a league-leading 65 points.

Washington is 17-5-1 on the road and have won the last five meetings with the Flyers.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Kevin Hayes-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Tyler Pitlick-Michael Raffl-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Mikhail Vorobyev-Joel Farabee

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Robert Hagg-Mark Friedman

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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