THE BUZZER sounded in overtime and the Flyers' longtime public address announcer, Lou Nolan, cleared his throat to address the 19,948 standing on their feet at the Wells Fargo Center.
"The game will now be decided by a shootout," Nolan said.
Collectively and instinctively, the full house groaned and let out a customary South Philadelphia cheer. Anything but a shootout!
Instead, the Flyers looked like a team that is suddenly hungry for the bonus points handed out in the skills competition.
Ilya Bryzgalov blocked countryman Alex Ovechkin in dramatic fashion.
Matt Read blasted a shot through Braden Holtby's five-hole.
And Wayne Simmonds finally proved Peter Laviolette right for continuing to march him out there for shootout attempts, scoring the game-winner as the Flyers used the breakaway competition to pick up a much-needed extra point over the visiting Capitals with a 2-1 shootout win Thursday night.
Don't look now, but the Flyers - the NHL's worst statistical shootout team since the concept was instituted in 2005 - have now won three of their last four shootouts.
"Those are big points, that at the start of the year, we let go beside us," Claude Giroux said. "The last few months, I think we've done a pretty good job."
Simmonds, who hasn't scored a goal in regulation in more than a month, also notched his goal through the five-hole after getting some timely advice from Read. He is now 1-for-6 this season in the shootout.
"We work on these things, contrary to belief," Laviolette said. "We do work on these things once in a while, and he's consistently the guy that hangs in there at the end as the guy who puts up the most goals. I think it's an art, and I think you have to have a plan when you go in there and have the patience.
"You have to be Cool Hand Luke sometimes, and he's proven that in practice."
With the win, the fifth-place Flyers kept pace with the Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings. The loss was a crushing blow for the Capitals, who are clinging to life on a respirator with the eighth and final playoff spot, as they gained just one point in their lone game in-hand against the charging Buffalo Sabres.
"It's a lot better than before," Jaromir Jagr said of the Flyers' confidence in the shootout. "Bryz is stopping the puck. And at least we've got one guy who can score."
Scoring - and poor starts, as Ovechkin scored on the game's first shot - has instead been the Flyers' problem recently.
"We tried to be good defensively against a good offensive team like that," explained Giroux, who netted his 85th point of the season with his second-period goal. That is the most points any Flyer has scored since Mark Recchi's 91 in 1999-2000.
The Flyers are now 9-2-1 in their last 12 games, but they've scored one goal in a game twice this week. In a broader scope, the Flyers have collected just 58 goals in their last 22 games. They've been shut out four times in that span and held to one goal another four times.
Along the way, they've had three four-goal, two five-goal, one six-goal and one seven-goal performances. Only one of those outbursts, a 5-0 win over Florida on March 8, was against a current playoff team.
When you boil it all down and remove those less-than-measuring-stick games, the Flyers are left with 25 goals in 15 games.
Bryzgalov alone has been able to mask their goal-scoring woes. He has allowed just 11 goals over the last 10 games. On Thursday night, Bryzgalov said he tried to be patient against Ovechkin - who now has six goals in his last five games after another slow start this season.
"Not think," Bryzgalov said. "Just play."
Ovechkin scored once on seven shots, including his shootout attempt.
"It's always tough to stop guys like that," Bryzgalov said of facing his fellow Russian. "Like any other case, with Ilya [Kovalchuk], he's one of the best players in the world. If you give him the opportunity, he can score."
At the other end, the Flyers chalk up their lack of scoring to stingier opponents and playoff atmospheres. And they're hoping the playoffs, when goals are traditionally even tougher to score, could be the antidote to their ailment.
"As long as we can win without it, it's still a good sign," Jagr said. "Sooner or later, it's going to come. It's going to come at the right time. I thought that we didn't play our best, I thought they would win. We didn't play our game and they had a lot more chances than us."
Sixteen of the Flyers' 18 skaters registered at least one shot on goal . . . Ilya Bryzgalov also stopped Marcus Johansson on a penalty shot in the second period. Bryzgalov is now 2-for-3 on penalty shots since joining the Flyers . . . Alex Ovechkin surpassed his goal total from last season with his first-period snipe. It was Ovechkin's 33rd of the season. He now leads the league in goals on the road with 21 . . . Ovechkin's sidekick, Alex Semin, was scratched with a lower-body injury . . . The Flyers were scoreless on just one power-play attempt.