Flyers goalie Steve Mason, burned by Washington in last season's playoffs, and his teammates gained a bit of redemption Wednesday in the teams' first meeting of the season.
Flyers 3, Capitals 2. In a shootout.
Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds (winner) scored in the shootout and Mason made three saves in the extra session before a roaring sellout crowd that included Vice President Biden at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers came back from a 1-0 deficit in the shootout.
A crowd of 20,011, a regular-season record, watched as the Flyers faced the Capitals for the first time since Washington won last season's playoff series, four games to two. Mason struggled mightily in that series, going 0-3 and being replaced by Michal Neuvirth.
Mason, who downplayed the redemption factor, made 36 saves Wednesday, including one on Alex Ovechkin from the doorstep while the Capitals were on a power play with three seconds left in regulation. He also made a key stop on Matt Niskanen late in overtime.
"It's definitely good to get back in the win column," said Mason, whose team had lost two straight after winning 10 in a row. "You go on a 10-game winning streak and you can't let it slide. Unfortunately, we had two losses in a row there, and you can't have a slide and kind of counteract everything you've done in the winning streak."
Simmonds said the game had a playoff feel.
"It was pretty intense," he said after the Flyers' fourth shootout win of the year - equaling their highest number in any full season. "You knew at any moment, with any mistake the other team could capitalize on it. I thought it was a great game by both teams."
Washington's Braden Holtby (36 saves) and Mason took turns making timely saves during a third period in which both teams had excellent scoring chances.
The Flyers killed off Washington's lone power play, which started late in regulation and carried into overtime. That made the Flyers' penalty killers 16 for 16 in the last six games.
The Flyers' power play, which has been among the NHL's best all season, failed to score for the fifth straight game, going 0 for 13 in that span. They failed to get a shot in their two power plays Wednesday.
Claude Giroux, converting a Capitals giveaway, fired a shot over Holtby's glove to tie the score at 2 with 20.7 seconds left in the second period. The teams were skating four-on-four at the time.
Holtby had stopped Ivan Provorov as he went in alone from a difficult angle on the left, and the puck kicked into the corner to Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, whose pass off the side boards took a funky bounce to Giroux.
From the high slot, the Flyers captain deposited his 10th goal and first in the last six games.
"I was going to pass it to Provy, but guys on the bench have been yelling at me to shoot the puck, so I thought I would just put it on net," Giroux said.
After a ragged opening 20 minutes in which they were thoroughly outplayed, the Flyers came to life at the start of the second period.
"The first shift of the second period, we tried to set a little different tone, and that kind of restarted the hockey game for us," coach Dave Hakstol said.
They had eight of the first nine shots in the period, started throwing their bodies around, and tied the score at 1 on Michael Raffl's wraparound goal with 15:35 left in the second. The goal horn sounded and the red light went on after Holtby swatted at the puck - which was in midair - with his stick near the goal line. Referee Mike Leggo waved off the score. After a video review, however, Raffl was credited with his seventh goal.
About 51/2 minutes later, the Capitals regained the lead as Lars Eller scored on a rebound, putting the visitors ahead, 2-1, before Giroux netted the equalizer.
Wednesday started a stretch in which the Flyers will play 25 of their final 48 games against teams from the suddenly powerful Metropolitan Division.
"We're really excited to play somebody we're going to see more than twice in a season," defenseman Radko Gudas said before the game, before he helped set up Raffl's goal.
"Any time you play teams like this in your division, there's a little more feel to it," Giroux said.
The Flyers play another Metro rival Thursday, traveling up the New Jersey Turnpike to face the Devils in Newark.