The Flyers followed the worst loss of their season -- a 5-0 debacle at home Thursday to the last-place Devils -- with their biggest win; a 7-2 beat-down at the first-place Capitals on Saturday. Sean Couturier scored twice, goal-starved Claude Giroux netted his first in a more than a month and had two assists, the team executed three key second-period penalty kills and held NHL goals leader Alex Ovechkin scoreless. It is the latest episode in a schizophrenic season littered with strong wins (Avalanche, Penguins, Bruins) and baffling losses as they linger at the edge of the playoffs.
The Flyers scored three goals in the first 4 minutes, 30 seconds of the second period and turned a game that had been tied by first-period power-play goals into a 4-1 lead. Nicolas Aube-Kubel started the surge by eluding former teammate Radko Gudas and hitting Michael Raffl with 2 minutes, 45 seconds into the period.
Just 14 seconds later Jake Voracek drew two defenders at the blue line near the Capitals’ bench which freed Couturier down the middle, who then faked Braden Holtby into submission and left the goalie gazing at the scoreboard in impotence.
Matt Niskanen, who won a Stanley Cup with the Caps two years ago, repaid his homecoming scoreboard tribute with an unlikely assist -- a waist-high dump at the goal that James van Reimsdyk deflected home.
Giroux, buried in a 13-game goalless streak, tied for the longest of this 13-year career, finally scored, with 11:58 to play in the game. It was a bunny on a wide-open goal during a 5-on-3 power play. ... Couturier scored twice, running his hot streak to 13 points in 12 games.
Wasn’t that special
The Flyers registered a crucial penalty kill, 4-on-3 then 5-on-4, late in the second period, which preserved a 4-1 lead. It was one of three kills in the second period. On the other side of the ledge, the Flyers’ first goal -- a marquee effort, Couturier from Giroux and Voracek -- came just 9 seconds in the game’s first penalty, opened the night’s scoring with 4:38 to play in the first period, and stunned the Capitals’ second-ranked penalty kill, which entered at 84.7 percent. Giroux’s goal made the Flyers 2-for-5 on Saturday.
Robert Hagg returned to the lineup after a one-game absence to allow trade-bait defenseman Shayne Gosthisbehere a chance to return after missing a month after having left knee surgery. Hagg’s return was an upgrade. ... The Flyers entered the game averaging 2.62 goals, and they were a minus-31 in road goal differential.