The Washington Capitals struggled to mount much offense against the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday, but two deflection goals, a Jakub Vrana breakaway, and a Herculean effort by Braden Holtby were enough to net the Caps the victory.
Tom Wilson’s 22nd goal of the season started the Capitals’ scoring 3:52 into the first period. It helped deflate the Flyers, who were fighting for their playoff lives.
Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen received the primary assist after unleashing a smart shot from the point. Wilson, set up between the two circles, reached his stick out and redirected the puck to the far corner of the net, as Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott slid the opposite direction.
“Some guys have a knack a little bit more for it,” Wilson said after the game. “I played a lot of net front growing up. It was just something I learned and tried to pick up techniques on. Different guys are really good. Osh is obviously really good at it. Obviously, a little bit of luck goes into it. You try and tip it to an area. It’s just kind of feeling it out and working at it.”
Wilson pumped his right arm to celebrate his goal.
“Personally I love playing against Philly,” Wilson said. “It’s definitely a rivalry. A division opponent we’ve gotten pretty familiar with over the years.”
Wilson’s goal meant that he has scored a goal in all four meetings between the Flyers and Capitals this season. Travis Boyd and Vrana would add goals in the second and third periods respectively to give the Caps a cushion they would never relinquish.
The Flyers, sitting seven points out of the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference, played desperately, putting 36 shots on goal and accumulating 61 shot attempts at five-on-five. Philadelphia needed not only win Sunday, but the rest of their games this season to potentially squeak into the playoffs.
Instead, the Capitals won, essentially eliminating the Flyers from the dance. The Capitals swept their season series against the Flyers 4-0 and beat them three times in March.
Wilson seemed to relish that fact.
“Yeah. I mean. I don’t want to say it on camera, but they would feel the same way if it was reversed,” Wilson said on burying the Flyers playoff chances. “Those three games we played against them the last month or so – those were big points both ways. We’re happy to done what we did.”
Wilson is now tied with two other players for second in goals on the Capitals behind Alex Ovechkin (48). He’s scored 22 times in 57 games after signing a six-year, $31 million contract this past summer.
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