Boucher, Flyers notch statement win

WASHINGTON _ Having blown late regulation leads of 3-1 and 4-3, the Flyers seemed to be headed toward a disastrous loss Saturday night at the Verizon Center.

But goalie Brian Boucher stood tall in the shoot-out, and the Flyers outlasted the Washington Capitals, 5-4.

Boucher played solidly most of the night, making the most of his first start in 26 days.

Danny Briere scored what proved to be the winner in the shootout. That made him 8 for 19 (42.1 percent) in shoot-outs during his Flyers career.

It was an important victory for the Flyers because they had struggled against the league’s stronger teams. They entered the night just 4-6-2 against teams with a winning record and 8-0 against teams with a .500 record or worse.

Clearly, this was their best victory of the season, flaws and all.

The flaws: The Flyers again did not show discipline as they committed three late penalties that led to three power-play goals in the final 8:57 of regulation.

But they gutted it out, made a statement that they can play with the elite teams, and moved to within two points of Washington, which leads the Eastern Conference.

“It’s one thing to beat the lower teams, but we have to start showing we belong among the best,” Briere said.

The Flyers, fortunate that the Caps hit the post or crossbar three times in the game’s first 6:55, avenged a 3-2 OT loss to the Caps on Nov. 7. On Monday, they will host Montreal and try to avenge Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat.

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Andreas Nodl continues to blossom. After scoring just one goal in his first 48 games, he scored his fifth goal in 12 games this season…..Is Nik Zherdev back in coach Peter Laviolette’s doghouse? He played just 6:21 on Saturday...The Flyers lead the NHL with 74 goals _ one more than Washington....The Flyers and Caps won't play again in Washington this season unless they meet in the playoffs.....The Caps' Mike Knuble, a former Flyer, will miss a few games after getting hit with a puck in the face Friday in Atlanta. 

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