WASHINGTON - Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds was bloodied by a Washington player's elbow Friday night and missed most of the hard-fought game at the Verizon Center.
The Flyers tried gallantly to rally without Simmonds, but they were outlasted by the Capitals, 3-2.
Seconds after the Capitals' Troy Brouwer was knocked to the ice, he picked himself up and beat goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to the short side from a sharp angle, giving Washington a 2-1 lead with 16 minutes, 3 seconds left. Brouwer had only inches of room, but he found it as he fired a shot past defenseman Luke Schenn and over Bryzgalov's right shoulder.
Less than three minutes later, a turnover by Schenn led to Wojtek Wolski's breakaway goal as the Caps built a 3-1 cushion. Brayden Schenn, Luke's brother, scored on a rebound to cut the deficit to 3-2 with a little over nine minutes to play.
The third straight loss dropped the Flyers to 2-6, including 1-5 on the road.
The defeat could be even more costly because the team may be without Simmonds, a 28-goal scorer last season, for a while.
"He's a got a head injury and a little bit of a whiplash," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "He seemed OK after the game; we'll just have to see" on Saturday.
Holmgren said a doctor did not report that Simmonds had a concussion.
With 1:46 left in the first period, Washington defenseman John Erskine struck Simmonds with an elbow to the nose, sending the winger to the ice, blood pouring from his nostrils. Simmonds' head snapped back, and there was no immediate word on whether he suffered a concussion.
"Dirty" is the word coach Peter Laviolette used to describe the hit.
No penalty was called, though a five-minute major could have been assessed.
"I don't think John is a dirty player. Those things happen," said Holmgren, adding he didn't want to guess as to whether Simmonds would be able to play Saturday against Carolina.
The Flyers, who have had a sputtering offense in the first eight games, cannot afford to lose Simmonds, who has been one of their best players in the early going. They are already without Scott Hartnell (team-high 37 goals last year), who could miss another five weeks with a broken foot.
"You hope to have enough depth to cover yourself," Holmgren said. "If we lose Wayne for any stretch of time, that's another big hole."
After Simmonds was knocked woozy, Flyers winger Zac Rinaldo, showing his support for his teammate, pounded Matt Hendricks before play resumed. Rinaldo and Hendricks were given five minutes for fighting and game misconducts.
"It was improper," Rinaldo said of Erskine's hit.
Bryzgalov was again superb; he crumbled to the ice as he made a save on a five-on-three power play early in the third period and appeared to injure his ribs, but he remained in the game.
Bruno Gervais' first goal as a Flyer had given the visitors a 1-0 lead with 8:17 left in the second period.
The Capitals tied it as Nicklas Backstrom finished off a breakaway by putting a backhander high into the net with 2:17 to go in the second. Caps defenseman John Carlson stripped Sean Couturier of the puck in the Flyers' offensive end, then sent Backstrom away as the Flyers got caught on a bad change.