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Flyers big win jumpstarts Hockey Day in America

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On Sunday, March 2, 2014 the Philadelphia Flyers officially kicked off the NHL's "Hockey Day in America", with a thriller in Washington, DC against the hometown Capitals.

The intensity was evident from the start. The Flyers were playing their normal tough, physical style, and the Capitals were determined to use superior energy and a relentless forecheck to counteract.

The hometeam got on the board first. Having pressured Philly for several mins, the strong forecheck of the Capitals finally paid off when Troy Brouwer circled behind the Flyers net, and found Dmitry Orlov at the left point. The defenseman hammered in a shot at 6:06 to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.

Philly got on the board when team captain Claude Giroux one-timed a shot from the left faceoff circle. The shot was in and out of the net so quickly, that no one really saw it. When play finally stopped just a few mins later, video review confirmed Giroux had indeed tied the game 1-1 at 11:22

The third goal of the game was a thing of beauty. Mike Green held the puck in the Flyers zone, and slid it down to Jason Chimera who was below the goal line beneath the faceoff circle. Chimera made a perfect pass through the crease, which Marcus Johansson tipped in while parked in front of Flyers goalie Steve Mason.

Washington had a definite territorial advantage in the first period, and held a 2-1 lead as the period came to an end.

The visiting team's saving grace was perhaps effectiveness on faceoffs, and the goaltending of Steve Mason, but they had been outshot 17-6 in the opening period.

The problems for Washington began in the second period. While on the power play, Alex Ovechkin made a lackadaisical play behind his own net. This led directly to a turnover, and Sean Couturier found Adam Hall alone in the slot for a short-handed goal to tie the game at the 12:50 mark.

The momentum had shifted in favor of the Flyers, when they got a bit of bad luck. While pressuring the puck in the Caps' zone, the play went back to Andrej Meszaros at the blueline. The defenseman wound up for a slapshot, but snapped his stick in two almost equal parts, as the stick blade hit the ice. This led to an outnumbered attack which ended with Joel Ward on the doorstep making a pretty pass by pulling the puck back between his legs, and over to Beagle who tapped into an open side of the net.

Things began to look auspicious for the Caps when Orlov scored his second of the game less than 3 mins later. The Flyers had been carrying the play, and even outshot the Caps 14-9, but now trailed 4-2 as the second period came to a close.

The third period began with the Caps leading 4-2, despite having been outplayed in the previous period.

The Flyers continued to dominate in the third period, but Brayden Holtby was a beast in net for the Caps. It was beginning to look like the Flyers would come up short, when an undisciplined penalty changed everything. At 9:33, Orlov received a 5 min major penalty for boarding Brayden Schenn. Kimmo Timonen took a pass from Giroux, and found Jakub Voracek who pounded home a slap shot at 11:58 to make the score 4-3.

With time winding down, the Flyers pulled goalie Steve Mason to give themselves a 6 on 5 manpower advantage. There was just over a minute left to play, when team captain Claude Giroux tipped in a Voracek wrist shot to tie the game at 4-4. It was Giroux's 21st goal of the season, and second goal of the game.

Regulation time ended with the Flyers now holding a 34-29 edge in shots on goal, and all the momentum.

There would be only two shots in the overtime period. The second was the one that mattered. Kimmo Timonen registered his third assist of the game when he got the puck to veteran forward Vinny Lecavalier who scored at 2:45 to end the game 5-4 in favor of the visiting team.

The problematic Caps had a two goal lead with less than ten mins to play, and gave up three unanswered goals. For the resurgent Philadelphia Flyers, they are now 32-21-6 since Craig Berube took over as head coach.

The two teams will meet again on Wednesday night in Philadelphia; a game which is sure to be just as intense.

3 Stars of the game:

1) Mike Green-WAS

2) Claude Giroux-PHI

3) Vinny Lecavalier-PHI

Flyers line combinations:

Giroux/Hartnell/Voracek

B. Schenn/Simmonds/Lecavalier

Couturier/Downie/Read

Raffi/Hall/Rinaldo

Defense pairings:

Coburn/Timonen

Schenn/Meszaros

Streit/Grossman

Washington line combinations:

Backstrom/Ovechkin/Laich

Chimera/Ward/Fehr

Johansson/Brouwer/Erat

Grabovski/Beagle/Wilson

Defense pairings:

Green/Orlov

Erskine/Carrick

Alzner/Carlson

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