WASHINGTON - Wise-guy humor surrounding Philadelphia's disabled hockey team: What's the difference between the Flyers and a hospital ward?
The Flyers' injury count reached epic proportions (nine players) in recent days. Tonight, they at least had wingers Simon Gagne and Josh Gratton back from injury stints, and the Flyers showed surprising energy for a team that was concluding its longest trip of the season - a six-city, 12-day odyssey.
And they picked up a hard-earned point in a 2-1 shoot-out loss to budding rival Washington at the deafeningly-loud Verizon Center. Despite the shoot-out defeat, they moved into a tie for first place with the New York Rangers in the Atlantic Division.
"Injuries or not, the guys have to put in the effort and play well, and we've done that with a lot of guys missing," goalie Marty Biron said. "Maybe this one point will be a big point for us."
In the shoot-out, Viktor Kozlov's goals proved to be the difference. Capitals goalie Jose Theodore stopped Gagne, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.
The Flyers are 2-5 in shoot-outs - 5-11 over the last two seasons.
The Caps' Alexander Semin was briefly alone against Biron with about two minutes remaining in overtime, but his shot hit the skate of teammate Brooks Laich in front. A minute later, Biron made a superb save on Alex Ovechkin from the slot.
Welcome to the shoot-out. It was the first time the Flyers had played in three straight shoot-outs.
Team Red Cross finished 2-2-2 on the six-game trip.
"Obviously, it didn't start out the way we wanted it to," said Richards, referring to losses in Chicago and Columbus, "but I thought we responded very well in Vancouver and Anaheim. Maybe we ran out of steam a little in L.A., but we had some rest and played well tonight, so overall, I think it was a good effort."
For the second time in as many games against Washington, the Flyers kept Ovechkin (five shots) scoreless. Ovechkin did land heavy hits on Luca Sbisa and Jeff Carter (borderline kneeing).
"Defensively, we've had some great efforts [on the trip]," said Biron, who made 33 saves. "L.A. was a great effort defensively and this was a great effort defensively, so I think that's really a positive sign to keep moving forward."
The Flyers blocked 24 shots, including five by Braydon Coburn. Defenseman Ossi Vaananen made arguably the biggest play of the night when Michael Nylander corralled a rebound and had a wide-open net with 11 minutes, 40 seconds left in the middle period. Vaananen slid into the crease and blocked the shot.
"In the second period, there were a couple of times I was like a fish out of water back there," Biron said. "The puck was taking weird bounces off the end boards, and Ossi had to make a great toe save. I didn't even see it. I heard about it. We had a couple of guys laying down and blocking shots and, as a goalie, it just gives you more energy to see that."
After going 1 for 18 (5.6 percent) on the power play during the trip, the Flyers used Coburn's goal with the extra man to forge a 1-1 tie with 19:37 left in the third period.
The goal - a drive from the right point, with Scott Hartnell setting a screen in front - was scored just five seconds after Nylander's hooking penalty.
"That's my job - taking the goalie's eyes away," Hartnell said. "It was kind of a fluttery shot and I knew it had a chance to go top corner, so I just let it go by me and let it go top-shelf."
Nicklas Backstrom scored 2:10 into the game - the eighth straight game the Flyers allowed a power-play goal.
The Caps have won nine straight at home, where they are 18-1-1. Overall, Washington has won seven straight and 12 of 13. The only loss during that stretch was last month's 7-1 defeat against the Flyers.