WASHINGTON -- Turns out, Sunday didn’t end the way most predicted for Philadelphia’s two sports teams.
Those expecting an Eagles blowout in Minneapolis didn’t get one. And those lusting for a blood bath in Washington - after the Flyers’ beating and brawling six weeks ago against the Capitals - received something entirely different.
Instead, the Flyers appeared to be en route to a clean-cut redemption win in Washington, but crumbled in an epic meltdown that could come back to haunt them in the standings.
The Flyers held a 4-1 lead with less than 10 minutes to salt away, yet suddenly stopped doing everything that made them successful for the first 50 minutes of the game. They took unnecessary penalties, played sloppy with the puck, were pinned in their own zone for too long, and left the NHL's leading goal-scorer unchecked.
It all added up to a 5-4 shootout loss for the Flyers, which may have ended up being more embarrassing than their 7-0 drubbing on Nov. 1. The Flyers are now 1-3 in the shootout this season.
The Flyers sacrified a point in the standings to Washington, one of the teams they are chasing in the Metropolitan division. It was a shaky start to the week, that includes another game at home against the Caps and a home-and-home with Columbus, another one of the teams in front of them.
A dismal second half of the third period took the luster off what was an impressive sign for the Flyers: for the first time in months, their first line was clicking. Winger Michael Raffl dished out three assists, setting up goals for linemates Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, to pace the Flyers in scoring.
Raffl now has 7 points in his last 6 games - and four since joining the Flyers’ top line prior to Thursday’s win over Montreal. The line combined for six points on Sunday afternoon.
With a comfortable, 4-1 lead, the Flyers relaxed a bit in the third period and it nearly cost them. Couturier and Voracek scored 74 seconds apart in the beginning of the third period before Mike Green cut the cushion to two goals.
Mark Streit took a delay of game penalty 22 seconds after Green’s goal - and although the penalty didn’t cost the Flyers directly, it continued Washington’s new-found momentum. Dmitry Orlov scored with 3:31 to play, a puck deflected off Flyers defenseman Nick Grossmann, to make it a nail-biting finish in front of a rabid Capitals audience.
That's when the Flyers lost track of Alex Ovechkin, who now has 27 goals in 33 games this season. Ovechkin intercepted teammate Joel Ward's pass in the slot - originally intended for Green - and beat Steve Mason for what should have been his second goal of the game. His pass to Marcus Johansson in the first period actually opened the scoring on the power play, but the puck went in off Kimmo Timonen's stick, and was credited to Johansson. The scoring was never changed. It would have been Ovechkin's 12th power play tally of the season - more than anyone on the Flyers has scored at any strength this season.
More coming after the game.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers