Flyers reach All-Star break on high note with OT win over Capitals

WASHINGTON — Jakub Voracek needed 38 seconds to end the Flyers’ losing streak.

And the Washington Capitals’ home winning streak.

Voracek outmuscled Evgeny Kuznetsov and beat Braden Holtby with a spin-around wrister 38 seconds into overtime Wednesday night to give the Flyers a 4-3 win over the Capitals.

It was Voracek’s second goal of the game and second overtime game-winner of the season.

“You watch what he did tonight, it was excellent,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “The play that he made on the game-winning goal, it was a big-time play.”

The win snapped the Flyers’ three-game losing skid and put an end to the Capitals’ 12-game home winning streak, which fell one game shy of tying the franchise record.

With the victory, the orange and black gained two points in the wild-card chase heading into the All-Star break since the Penguins and Devils were both idle Wednesday night.

Heading into Wednesday’s matchup, the Flyers were coming off a string of tough losses. Last Tuesday, they suffered a defeat by Toronto with under two minutes left. Monday, same story.

“We just needed to win,” forward Ryan White said. “I thought we played pretty good in the Boston game. Pittsburgh and Toronto were a couple of tough games.

“Maybe we deserved better the other night, but deserving better doesn’t mean anything. We need to come out of here and get two points. And the boys did a good job tonight.”

While it was important for the Flyers to head into the break avoiding a four-game losing streak, White was quick to point out they’ve been through this before and came out flat.

“We had a big win before Christmas and it didn’t really mean much,” he said. “We came out and lost three in a row. We just have to be a consistent group and be ready every night.”

White registered his fifth goal of the season in the first period, when he intercepted a Kuznetsov turnover and beat Holtby. His goal gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

Playing with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde, White quickly credited his linemates for creating the turnover.

“You know what, it was good forechecking by those other two,” he said. “They do it every night. That’s their job to get out there and hound pucks, make guys make mistakes.”

With the Flyers leading, 2-0, in the second period, the Capitals came out of the first intermission firing. In less than a minute, Washington erased the Flyers’ two-goal lead.

Andre Burakovsky deposited a Flyers turnover past Michal Neuvirth at 7:49 to make it a 2-1 game, and then 55 seconds later Nicklas Backstrom beat Neuvirth to knot the game at two.

Burakovsky also scored the game-tying goal in the third period at 3:55.

“After they scored the two quick goals,” Neuvirth said, “I was still confident in our group. We made a couple of mistakes, but other than that we played a solid game.”

All three goals Neuvirth surrendered can be pinpointed to defensive-zone breakdowns and turnovers. Claude Giroux was goated out of position on Backstrom’s goal and turnovers led to both of Burakovsky’s goals.

Still, Neuvirth escaped the nation’s capital with a win over his former team. The 27-year-old stopped 27 shots in his first start in Washington since February 2014.

After the morning skate Wednesday, Giroux said it was important for the Flyers to get off to a good start against the Capitals, who hadn’t played in over a week.

The Caps had both of their games postponed this past weekend because of snow.

Though the Flyers surrendered two leads, they jumped out to a two-goal advantage. At one point in the first period, the orange and black had scored on two of their three shots.

Against the NHL-best Capitals, the Flyers fought until the end and came away with a huge win in a tough building. They’re now 6-2-2 in their last 10 games at the Verizon Center.

“They’re damn good,” Hakstol said. “They have a lot of weapons, they’re very deep.

“We got the start that we needed. Maybe we were able to take advantage of an eight-day break that they were coming off of but we still had to take advantage of that and we did.

“From there, it was back and forth. I thought both teams left it all out on the ice and, most importantly, we found a way to come up with two points. It was much deserved.”

*Story originally published on on Jan. 28, 2016.

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