WASHINGTON - The Flyers' exhibition finale against the Washington Capitals on Friday night was the last chance for the "bubble" players - forwards Scott Laughton and Chris VandeVelde - to make a case for staying on the team's roster.
Neither was a factor as they didn't get much ice time in the Flyers' fight-filled 6-3 loss to the Capitals at the Verizon Center.
Alex Ovechkin, who left for Greece after the game to take part in an Olympic torch-lighting ceremony, and Eric Fehr scored two goals apiece against Ray Emery, who struggled with his rebound control.
The Flyers finished 1-5-1 in the preseason, lowering expectations. They open the regular season Wednesday against visiting Toronto, and they need to clean up their defensive coverage.
"I don't like our record. I don't like the way we played some nights," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "But I was happy with our effort tonight. I thought we did some good things, and we have to move on now. We've got some work to do."
The other Flyers whose job status seems to be hanging by a thread are defensemen Bruno Gervais and Hal Gill, neither of whom dressed for the game.
The Flyers must trim two players to get down to 23 before opening-night rosters have to be submitted to the NHL offices by 5 p.m. Monday.
Before Friday's game, Holmgren said he might ask Gill if he would accept a minor-league contract, although he would have to clear waivers first.
Holmgren has a quandary: whether to keep 13 or 14 forwards or seven or eight defensemen. The Flyers have 14 forwards and nine defensemen left in camp.
If they keep 14 forwards, Laughton and VandeVelde will be on the team, barring a trade. There are rumblings the Flyers would like to deal a defenseman for a winger.
Jake Voracek, the top-line right winger who led the Flyers with 22 goals last season, missed his second straight game with a lower-back injury. He is expected to play in Wednesday's opener.
The Flyers hope Zac Rinaldo can play in that game. The feisty winger got a five-minute elbowing penalty Friday and a game-misconduct for a hit on Mikhail Grabovski. The NHL disciplinary czars may review the play.
Washington bolted to a 3-0 lead. Emery made a poor clearing pass to set up the Caps' first goal, scored by Fehr. Ovechkin made it 2-0 by scoring on a power-play, one-timer late in the opening period.
The Flyers scored three goals (Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds) in a span of 4 minutes, 45 seconds late in the second period to forge a 3-3 tie, but the Caps answered in the final period.