By Lewis Gould
In the back-to-back world that is this season’s NHL, the Caps just took a step back.
Scott Laughton scored his first NHL hat trick to help the visiting Flyers (8-3-2) to a 7-4 win over the Caps.
Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and had two assists, and Tom Wilson scored a goal and had his first three-assist NHL game for Washington (6-3-3), which has lost three in a row. Vitek Vanecek was pulled at 16:36 of the second period after allowing four goals on 14 shots, and Craig Anderson made six saves on eight shots in his Capitals debut.
“We let in too many goals tonight,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “We scored enough to win. I thought we could have scored more. There was a few that didn’t bounce our way. I don’t think it was a barrage coming at us defensively, but they capitalized on the chances that they did get.”
The Flyers and Capitals are scheduled to play in DC again Tuesday.
Couturier scored on a rebound 31 seconds into the third period to give the Flyers a 5-4 lead. Laughton made it 6-4 at 17:51 with his third of the game, and Couturier scored into an empty net at 18:38 for the 7-4 final.
“I felt great all game, from the start to the end,” Couturier said.
Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 11:11 of the first period, and he set up Wilson’s goal to make it 2-0 at 16:36. Ovechkin, on the rush, dropped the puck between his skates, pushed it through Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers, and passed across the slot to Wilson, who was charging the net.
“It definitely wasn’t the [start] we wanted, but that top line is tough to handle and we had our hands full,” Vigneault said. “But every game unfolds differently. I liked our response tonight.”
Laughton scored for Philadelphia to make it 2-1 at 18:33 and tied it 2-2 at 2:29 of the second period.
Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead 3-2 at 4:58. He has scored 12 goals in 14 NHL games on Super Bowl Sunday. Only Esposito has scored more (16 in 12 games).
Robert Hagg tied it 3-3 for the Flyers at 7:50. Van Riemsdyk scored to put Philadelphia ahead 4-3 at 16:36 and extend his point streak to seven games (four goals, nine assists).
“Today, we got beat up the ice both on set breakouts and on rushes,” said Capitals forward Lars Eller, who had an assist in his first game back after missing four because of a lower-body injury.
Nicklas Backstrom scored to tie it 4-4 with 57 seconds remaining in the second.
Washington played without forward Jakub Vrana, who was placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list Saturday, and forward T.J. Oshie, who has an upper-body injury.