WASHINGTON – Goalie Brian “Moose” Elliott downplayed how much the rest affected his play, but he looked refreshed as he played a key role in the Flyers’ 2-1 overtime victory over Washington on Sunday afternoon.
Elliott returned to the lineup after sitting out back-to-back games for the first time since Nov. 2-4. Michal Neuvirth was outstanding in the previous two games, wins over Toronto and New Jersey.
“You get as much work in as you can in practice to try to stay sharp and keep that winning feeling that we’ve had the last couple of games,” Elliott said after the Flyers outlasted one of the NHL’s best teams. “It was a big win for us, coming in on back-to-backs.”
Elliott had started 18 of 19 games before Neuvirth got the call against Toronto on Thursday.
In a scoreless first period Sunday, Elliott made 10 saves, including three point-blank stops.
With a little over nine minutes left in the first, Washington had a golden scoring chance. Two of them, actually.
Alex Ovechkin stripped the puck from defenseman Ivan Provorov and went on a two-on-one with Evgeny Kuznetsov. But Elliott stopped Ovechkin and then denied Kuznetsov on the rebound.
With a little under a minute left in the first, Elliott did the splits to stop Ovechkin, who was alone in front.
He later robbed Nicklas Backstrom from in front with a little over a minute left in the second period, and he had Jay Beagle shaking his head when he turned aside his redirection with about three minutes left in regulation and the teams tied at 1-1.
Coach Dave Hakstol said the two-game break helped Elliott, who labored as he allowed five goals in two periods in his previous appearance — a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers.
“He was sharp tonight,” Hakstol said after the Flyers’ seventh win in their last eight games pushed them into a playoff spot for the first time since Nov. 10. “When you play as much hockey as Moose has played for us, you don’t get those quality practice days, and sometimes you forget the value of just one or two days of good, simple work.”
Since moving to the top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny has 10 points in 12 games. “He’s benefited from playing with those two, but he’s certainly done his equal part to be part of a good line,” Hakstol said. …. Rookie defenseman Robert Hagg had three hits and now has a league-high 162 for the season. … Provorov blocked five shots. …The first period included a hard, clean check by Provorov, who sent Tom Wilson to the ice. … .A handful of Flyers went to the Eagles-Vikings NFC title game after returning from Washington. … The Caps, who have lost three straight, went into Sunday tied with Vegas for the most home wins (18) in the NHL.