Capitals score 5 unanswered goals to beat the Flyers 5-2, a big win for Washington’s playoff hopes

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WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored his 839th career goal and helped set up John Carlson’s go-ahead goal, and the Washington Capitals rallied to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Friday night in a massive victory for their playoff hopes.

The Capitals moved four points back of the Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan Division and also sit five back of Tampa Bay for the second and final wild card in the Eastern Conference. Washington has won five of seven to stay in the the thick of the race.

A week from the NHL trade deadline, players made a loud statement that they’re not ready to give up on the season just yet. Ovechkin’s 17th goal of the year sparked the comeback from down 2-0 after one period, Sonny Milano tied it and Carlson scored on a wraparound as part of a dominant second period that changed the complexion of the game and could have a similar impact on the playoff chase.

And it wasn’t just a 20-minute effort. Anthony Mantha and Dylan Strome scored in the third to give Washington some breathing room, long after the three-goal outburst over 14 minutes in the second.

At the other end of the ice, Charlie Lindgren continued his stellar season by stopping 24 of the 26 shots he faced in one of the most meaningful starts of his professional career. The coaching staff believed enough in Lindgren that it was a no-brainer to go with him over Darcy Kuemper, even after Lindgren allowed eight goals Tuesday in a blowout loss at Detroit.

It wasn’t so pretty for Samuel Ersson, pressed into action as the Flyers’ No. 1 goaltender by default with Carter Hart away from the team pending a sexual assault charge stemming from a 2018 incident in London, Ontario. Ersson, who the organization is counting on to carry it into the playoffs, allowed five goals on 21 shots.

Mistakes all around him didn’t help, as defensive breakdowns contributed on all of Washington’s goals. They were too much to compensate for the first-period goals by Bobby Brink and Owen Tippett that made it look like Philadelphia would roll.

Instead, the Flyers now sit in an even more tenuous spot, with the Capitals also having two extra games to play to make up ground.

The Flyers played a fourth consecutive game without All-Star forward Travis Konecny. General manager Daniel Briere said they hope Konecny can return next week, while injured defensemen Jamie Drysdale and Rasmus Ristolainen may or may not be back this season.

UP NEXT

Flyers: Felix Sandstrom is expected to make his first NHL start this season back in Philly on Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Capitals: Host the lowly Arizona Coyotes on Sunday afternoon in another crucial game to stay in the playoff race.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl

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