Scott Laughton’s first career hat trick sends Flyers to victory

Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl, Philadelphia Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)
Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl, Philadelphia Flyers (Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) /

After dropping the two game series against the Boston Bruins after some close heartfelt losses, the Philadelphia Flyers looked to pick up their first win since last Sunday against the New York Islanders. The orange and black traveled to Washington as the Capitals played their 13th game of all time on Super Bowl Sunday.

Prior to Sunday’s matinee, the announced that Sean Couturier was activated from IR after missing 10 games with torn cartilage in his rib. Phil Myers replaced Travis Sanheim on the blue line after Sanheim was a late scratch. It was announced that the 24 year old defender is out day-to-day for an undisclosed reason given was.

The Flyers also have recalled Sam Morin from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to the Taxi Squad. Morin played against Hershey Saturday in Leigh Valley’s season opener. Morin’s highlight in the Phantoms game yesterday was dropping the gloves with Bears forward Kale Kessy. I expected the Morin move to come due to Sam’s postgame comments on after Thursday’s pre-season game.

“When Chuck talked to me, they told me they want me to play two games down there. I was so happy. I need to play hockey again.”

This also could be the fact that the Phantoms don’t play again until Wednesday. Maybe it’ll be par for the course with the AHL club having such a big break in-between games. Shuffling a player or two to the Taxi Squad and sending them down a day or two before the Phantoms play again.

Carter Hart after missing Friday’s game against the Bruins, was back in the cage for the Flyers on Sunday afternoon and Alex Lyon was loaned back to the Taxi Squad. With all the flurry of moves, line changes and returners, AV rolled with 12 forwards and 6 defenders on Super Bowl Sunday.

In the opening frame, Couturier was paired with Michael Raffl and Nic Aube-Kubel. Both teams were off and running in the first ten minutes of the opening period. With very little whistles, chances flurried quickly rather for both teams. Hart looked sharp, having to make some key saves early on. After his one game absence on Friday, he and rookie of the month Vitek Vanecek were stellar.

Washington’s Nick Jenson was all over the ice in the first period and you’d have to think it’d take a simple mistake for either team to take an advantage.

It was Philadelphia who were caught with two many men on the ice with just under ten minutes to go. Nic Aube-Kubel would serve the penalty. Philadelphia’s PK struggled against Boston and the Flyers looked to find momentum in the start of a new series. Alex Ovechkin would make the Flyers pay after loosing track of how many skaters were on the ice.

Ovechkin scored his 4th goal of the season on the power-play after some puck work down low by Tom Wilson. After receiving the puck from Wilson, Lars Eller made a dish pass to the great eight. Ovechkin put the Capitals up 1-0 with 8:49 left in the opening frame.

Pat Mahomes and Tom Brady are playing quarterback in the Super Bowl tonight but it seemed as If Alex Ovechkin wanted to play quarterback today with not a football but a puck. Ovechkin after scoring goal number #710 in his career wasn’t done making spectacular plays on the Flyers defense. After hitting the blue line, Washington’s captain dangled around the back-checking defender Myers who was spinning and turning trying to pry the puck off the forward.

Ovechkin after the sick move, faked a shot and found Wilson in front who was able to bang home the Capitals second goal of the game. Wilson netted his fifth of the year with Nick Backstrom earning the secondary assist.

The Flyers, knowing they were down two in the period with little time left, went into an aggressive forecheck within the final three minutes of the frame. AV mixed up the lines and Couturier was bumped to the third line hoping that Philadelphia would find an answer to the Ovechkin show.

Indeed they did. Scott Laughton cut the lead in half and found the back up the net with less than 90 seconds to go in the frame. Erik Gustafsson and Joel Farabee earned the assists on the Flyers lone goal of the period. Shots after one period were15-8 Washington with the Capitals holding a 2-1 lead.

After scoring last in the 1st period, Philadelphia looked to keep the momentum going looking for the tying goal. The Washington Capitals had other plans with chances coming left and right for the home team in the first minute of the 2nd. Washington looked to regain their two goal lead but Hart bailed out his team, keeping this a one goal game.

Philadelphia made a mistake in the first period, Washington made theirs in the second. Dmitry Orlov got a bit too cute in the Flyers zone trying to dangle past James van Reimsdyk but he doesn’t bite. Van Reimsdyk found Farabee streaking up the ice and after a give and go into Washington’s zone, JVR put the puck in the right corner and pinned himself on the board quickly.

The veteran had great eye awareness and passed the puck Laughton, who made no mistak and was able to fire the puck off his twine and score his second of the game to tie the hockey game at 2-2 with 18:33 left in the period.

While Laughton threw his name in the hat for Game MVP we all know that Ovi is up for a challenge and he rose. Philadelphia’s tying goal only lasted less than two minutes after Ovechkin clapped a bomb just inside the Flyers defensive zone to score his 3rd of the game.

The see-saw battle wasn’t looking like it was going away anytime soon. While the Flyers 3rd line was a shinning moment in this game, the 4th line wanted their chance to shine. Flyers earned their 1st power-play of the game after Nic Dowd took an interference penalty on Kevin Hayes. The man advantage looked much better after it struggled against Boston in both games. Philadelphia spent most of it’s time in the zone plus also didn’t allow many opportunities for the Washington PK to clear the puck.

Although unsuccessful on the power-play, Couturier made an impact in his return, setting up the Flyers tying goal. He found Nic Aube-Kubel who then found Robert Hagg on a beautiful tape to tape pass after the defenseman was pinching up into their attacking zone. Hagg received the pass right on the sweet spot of the twig and didn’t miss. Hagg shot one past the right blocker of Vanecek to earn his first of the year and fist pumped to this game now being tied back up, this time at 3-3.

Philadelphia controlled most of the attacking zone for the final moments of the frame. The Flyers, after not registering a single shot on their first power-play got a chance to redeem themselves but while being up a man, a turning point in the period after Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin both missed the net on some fantastic chances. After a 2-1 game before coming out for the period. Washington not only lost their lead but gave up two goals at this point to their opponent.

Washington began to grow a bit lazy in their own end and looked like they were out of gas and Philadelphia looked for their first lead of this afternoon. A bouncing puck was up for grabs right near Vanecek’s cage. Vanecek decided not to play the puck leaving JVR all alone with a grade a chance and a player like JVR doesn’t miss. He didn’t here either, shooting one again as the Flyers took advantage of Vanecek’s right blocker. JVR recorded his 2nd point of the game after an assist earlier and earned himself his 7th of the year.

After Philly’s short comeback, Peter Laviolette saw enough of the rookie goaltender, pulling him after giving up four goals in the game and three in the period. It’d be Craig Anderson’s game the rest of the way. Like anything on this Sunday, leads and comebacks were short.

JVR’s goal, which gave Philly the lead, lasted only three minutes. Nicklas Backstrom would score his 6th of the season off a backhand goal. within the final minute of the frame making the score 4-4.  A wild, turning, exciting game on Super Bowl Sunday was coming to a Hail Mary end in the final twenty. Shots would be 30-14 Washington.

Couturier’s impact wasn’t done yet. In his first game back in ten days, the Flyers the lead in the hockey game, scoring his first of the season. After Coots’s goal the Flyers were electric.

However Hayes took the face-off after the goal and was hobbling back to the bench after getting tangled up with Garnett Hathaway. It looked like he had something wrong with his knee. He would get checked out by the head athletic trainer Jim McCrossin but would later return with 9:39 left in the game. He seemed to skating alright so that’s great news, Flyers faithful.

Washington began growing frustrated as Zdeno Chara took a double minor slashing penalty on the returning Coots. They were unsuccessful on the man advantage, which swung Washington a beautiful flurry of chances including a turning point helmet save by Hart on Dowd.

Ovechkin ended up making a huge mistake after such an impressive game. He dumped the puck in the Flyers zone thinking that Hart would freeze the biscuit. Instead the net-minder would dish the puck off to Farabee who climbed into the zone and left the puck for Laughton. He would score his third of the game to give the Flyers their sixth goal of the afternoon.

An extra point would be capped off by an empty netter by Couturier for his second of the afternoon.

Philadelphia would win their first game since last Sunday only on 23 shots, 7-4. Philadelphia is back in action against the very same Washington Capitals on Tuesday on the road at Capital One Arena.