Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin, pointless in his previous three games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season, was due to erupt Tuesday against the Orange and Black.
Flyers goalie Carter Hart, shaky in his four games before Tuesday, was due for a solid performance.
Hart didn’t, but an apparent right leg injury didn’t help his cause. He left after one period in an eventual 9-2 Washington wipeout at Capital One Arena.
Ovechkin had a goal, an assist, and a plus-3 rating as the Caps won their fourth straight. Washington (41-22-10) split the season series with the Flyers, two wins apiece.
It was the most goals allowed by the Philadelphia Flyers this season, and their most lopsided defeat.
When Hart left, the Flyers faced a 3-1 deficit.
Right winger Cam Atkinson, the Flyers’ leading scorer, was also injured and did not return after the first period. The Flyers would only call it a lower-body injury.
Hart and Atkinson are doubtful for Wednesday’s game against the visiting Rangers, per interim coach Mike Yeo.
Philly has nine games left, and you have to wonder if either player will return this season. The Flyers (23-39-11), of course, have long been out of the playoff picture.
Heading into Tuesday, the Flyers had the NHL’s fifth-worst record.
Here are five observations from their latest loss:
1. Carter Hart continues to struggle. Maybe an injury is to blame.
Hart allowed three first-period goals — he had no chance on one of them — and lately has resembled the goaltender who looked lost last season.
The 23-year-old goalie started to hobble late in the first period — he continually stretched his right leg as if it was bothering him — and Martin Jones was in the net to start the second.
In his last four-plus games, Hart has allowed 22 goals.
Yes, the Flyers are playing lots of young players and that is part of the reason for Hart’s struggles. Defenseman Ronnie Attard, for instance, was turned inside-out by on Martin Fehervary before the defenseman put a shot between Hart’s legs to make it 3-1 with 6:44 remaining in the first.
Hart, who allowed three goals on 10 shots Tuesday, has been slow to react lately, has been flopping a lot, and seems to have lost his confidence. Maybe the leg was bothering him before last night and has caused some of his problems.
If he is going to be sidelined, the Flyers figure to recall Felix Sandstrom from the Phantoms. Sandstrom excelled in his one NHL game this season, making 43 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss in San Jose on Dec. 30.
Shake, rattle, he's on a roll! pic.twitter.com/K4RZ3WQp5m
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 12, 2022
2. Bobby Orr Brink had a solid NHL debut.
The diminutive right winger, who helped Denver win the NCAA national title Saturday, had a power-play assist on James’ van Riemsdyk’s 20th goal and second of the night with 3:34 left. Brink had four shot attempts, two blocked shots, two hits, two shots on goal, and an “even” rating — not easy to accomplish in a seven-goal loss.
Brink, 20, started on a line with Morgan Frost and James van Riemsdyk.
The 5-9, 166-pound Brink was in the starting lineup and stood next to Ovechkin, one of the players he idolized as a youngster, for the opening faceoff.
3. The Great Eight keeps rolling along.
Alex Ovechkin scored on a backhander after he collected his own rebound — Hart did a poor job controlling it — to give Washington a 1-0 lead with 13:59 left in the first.
That gave the 36-year-old Ovechkin 43 goals in 67 career games against the Philadelphia Flyers.
He now has 46 goals this season, two shy of equaling Teemu Selanne’s record (48 in 2006-07) for most goals by a player in a season when he was 36 or older. (P.S, If you are ever in Laguna Beach, stop by Selanne’s steak house. You will not regret it.)
Late in the game, a scrum ensued and Scott Laughton barked at the Caps’ bench for leaving Ovechkin on the PP for a full two minutes in a blowout, per ESPN.
“How else do you think he’s going to catch Gretzky?” Caps winger Tom Wilson told Laughton, according to ESPN.
Ovechkin finished with 11 shot attempts, including three on goal.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 12, 2022
4. Cam Atkinson may be out for a while.
The right winger got leveled by Tom Wilson late in the first period and did not return. Wilson received a boarding penalty for the hit.
Atkinson, who played in his 700th career game Tuesday, leads the Flyers in goals (23) and points (50), but he has been laboring lately and obviously had not been healthy even before Tuesday. He has no goals and is minus-9 in his last 12 games
5. Where’s the defense?
Attard, playing in his sixth NHL game, and veteran Ivan Provorov had games to forget. They weren’t alone.
For some reason, both defensemen went high in the defensive zone in a shift late in the second, leaving Conor Sheary all alone in front. Sheary had enough time to read a novel and made a couple moves and easily beat Jones to make it 5-1 with 4:30 left in the period.
Attard was minus-5 and Provorov was minus-3 as the Flyers lost for their 17th time in their last 20 road games. Kevin Connauton was also minus-5. Patrick Brown, Nate Thompson, and Joel Farabee were each minus-4.
Van Riemsdyk finished at plus-2 and reached the 20-goal mark for the seventh time in his career. … The Caps set a season high for goals scored. … Lars Eller, who had two goals, got behind Cam York and finished off a three-on-two early in the second period, giving the Caps a 4-1 lead on the third shot Jones faced. … Oskar Lindblom did not play. … The Capitals are 16-6-1 against Metropolitan foes, the best record for Metro teams against division opponents.