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(Sunday, December 15th)
Final Score: Washington 5, Philadelphia 4 (SO)
Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Nicklas Backstrom picked up the shootout winner, capping a rally from a three-goal, third-period deficit which sent Washington past Philadelphia, 5-4, to kick off the first edition of a home- and-home series from Verizon Center.
Each team had registered a score when Backstrom beat Steve Mason with a forceful forehander to begin the third and final round. Sean Couturier was denied by Philipp Grubauer and the hosts gained the valuable extra point.
Mike Green, Dmitry Orlov and Alex Ovechkin tallied in a span of 7:52 late in regulation to wipe out a 4-1 margin for the Capitals, who have won four of five.
Grubauer stopped 24 shots for Sunday's victors.
"I think we had luck on our side today," said Ovechkin.
Michael Raffl posted a career-best three assists for the Flyers, who host the Caps on Tuesday having dropped five of their last seven. Couturier, Claude Giroux, Mark Streit and Jakub Voracek also lit the lamp, while Mason made 29 saves.
The Capitals produced the game's first goal on their second power play, when Ovechkin elected to pass rather than blast away from his usual spot in the left circle and the pass was tipped in by Marcus Johansson at 11:17.
Giroux evened the score inside of a minute left in the first, taking Raffl's pass and one-timing it home from the right circle.
Raffl picked up an errant Washington pass in the neutral zone and fed Streit for a successful shot off the rush from the left wing at 7:37 of the second to put Philly ahead.
Couturier victimized Grubauer on a shot from a severe angle to the left of the Caps' net, giving the visitors a 3-1 edge at 2:18 of the third period. It was a three-goal spread 74 seconds later when Voracek redirected a Raffl blast from atop the crease.
The Caps awoke from their slumber to force overtime.
Green got one back for the hosts with 8:40 remaining on a rising shot from the right point, then Orlov's floater from the point after a left-circle faceoff win brought the Caps within one as 3:31 showed on the clock.
Washington skated 6-on-5 when Ovechkin's low, blistering drive from below the circles zipped by Mason with 47.9 seconds to go. The Flyers netminder muffed a clearing attempt which set in motion the events that led to the tying goal.
"That was just a misplay," Mason said. "I didn't get that much on it. It's a bad mistake."
The luck continued to go the Capitals' way. On the first shootout try, Eric Fehr shot and Mason appeared to make the save, but the puck trickled inches over the goal line before being swept out. Giroux scored in the second round to keep Philly alive.
Ovechkin passed Mike Gartner (397) for second on the Capitals' all-time goal- scoring list. Peter Bondra (472) ranks first ... Washington improved to 8-3 in shootouts and leads the NHL with 10 wins beyond regulation, while Philadelphia fell to 1-3 in the game-deciding breakaway competition ... Prior to the contest, the Caps recalled forward Michael Latta from Hershey of the AHL -- since Mikhail Grabovski was a late scratch with the flu -- and assigned defenseman Nate Schmidt to Hershey.
12/15 21:18:59 ET
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