WASHINGTON - Minus two key defensemen, the Flyers were still a "plus" on Sunday night, defeating the Washington Capitals, 1-0, at the red-clad Verizon Center, and putting together their first winning streak in nearly two months.
Credit a revived Ilya Bryzgalov, who was outstanding in the nets.
Credit young left winger Eric Wellwood, who scored his second NHL goal after being recalled from the AHL's Phantoms the previous day.
Credit coach Peter Laviolette, who has a knack for getting the Flyers to respond after a timeout.
On the Flyers' first shift after Laviolette's timeout, the fourth line put pressure on Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, and it culminated with Wellwood tipping in defenseman Pavel Kubina's point drive, snapping a scoreless tie with 12 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the second period.
Bryzgalov made 34 saves and notched his third shutout of the season. He has a 2.16 goals-against average in his last nine games.
"He seems like he's really starting to feel comfortable," Laviolette said.
"He pretty much won the game for us," Kubina said.
Flyers center Danny Briere said Bryzgalov "looked big. He came out and they had nothing to shoot at. And I remember talking to guys around the league, and that's what they say about Bryz, especially last year. The last few years in Phoenix, he looked big. There was no net to shoot at, and that's the way he looked tonight."
Bryzgalov, who made his eighth consecutive start, downplayed his performance.
"It was an outstanding team effort," he said after the Flyers' first 1-0 win since 2007, when Antero Niittymaki was in the nets. "Guys sacrificed themselves. They cleared out the front of the net. They did everything Coach asked."
Nick Grossman led the way with six blocked shots and six hits, and Kubina - who needed about eight stitches after blocking a third-period shot near the bridge of his nose - contributed four hits and two blocked shots. Both defensemen were recently acquired for the stretch run.
Wellwood's goal marked the first time in the last 10 games the Flyers had scored the initial goal of a contest.
"Kuby took a nice shot, and I think he saw me because we had eye contact," said Wellwood, whose fourth line, with Zac Rinaldo (five hits) and Sean Couturier, had numerous quality shifts.
The Flyers have a two-game winning streak for the first time since Jan. 10-12. Yes, they scored the first goal in each of those games en route to narrow wins over Carolina and the Islanders
Bryzgalov made his best save when he stopped former Flyer Mike Knuble's backhander on a breakaway with 12:56 left in the second period.
After that save Laviolette called his timeout; his team had been outshot, 19-9.
"We came out just a little flat in the second period," Laviolette said. "It seemed they had a lot of the shots, a lot of the chances. We were watching a little too much." The timeout was "more to get them back on track than anything else."
Wellwood has been effective in his six games with the Flyers, collecting four points and a plus-7 rating.
"Every time Welly has come up, he's done a real nice job for us," Laviolette said. "He's fast; he's smart and he can play against anybody."
Washington star Alex Ovechkin turned the puck over to Kubina before Wellwood's goal, and the left winger didn't play in the next 7:26.
"I tried to make a play in the offensive zone and it cost us a goal," Ovechkin said.
The Flyers were missing defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros, both sidelined with unspecified lower-body injuries. Timonen is second on the Flyers with 34 assists and first with 111 blocked shots. Meszaros leads the team with 144 hits.