PREVIEW: With Sean Couturier back healthy, Philadelphia Flyers visit Washington Capitals again

By Field Level Media
Feb 7, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals defenseman Brenden Dillon (4) checks Philadelphia Flyers right wing Travis Konecny (11) while battling for the puck in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers certainly are happy that Sean Couturier is feeling better.

February 9th, 1:06pm EST UPDATE: This game has been postponed. Full story here.

He had two goals and an assist Sunday in a 7-4 victory over Washington in his first game back after missing 10 games due to a rib injury. The win broke a two-game losing streak for the Flyers, and they’ll try to stay on the right track Tuesday as they visit the Capitals again. The game time has been changed to 6 p.m.

“I felt great all game, from the start to the end,” Couturier said in his first game since being injured in the Flyers’ second game of the season on Jan. 15 vs. Pittsburgh. “I think it’s just trying to be smart coming back in the lineup and managing my ice time. But obviously in the game there’s different situations and we had to maybe adjust or change some matchups. So, I’m just happy to be back and help the team win.”

Related: If you’re a fan of the Flyers, check out #AnytimeAnywhere rumors, rankings, and news here.

Couturier scored both of his goals in the third period after Philadelphia had rallied from an early 2-0 deficit. Couturier gave the Flyers a 5-4 lead with his goal 31 seconds into the third, and later added a long empty-net goal to lock up the win.

Scott Laughton and Couturier combined for most of the Flyers’ offense, as Laughton scored his first career hat trick to go with Couturier’s brace.

James van Riemsdyk extended his point-scoring streak to seven games with a goal and an assist, giving him 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in that stretch. He’s posted 18 points this season, fourth-most in the NHL entering Monday.

Goalie Carter Hart missed the Flyers’ previous game (a loss versus Boston) due to back spasm issues, but got the win in this one. Hart gave up two first-period goals but settled down and finished with 33 saves.

Defenseman Travis Sanheim missed the game for the Flyers after being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list Sunday.

Washington generated plenty of offense in Sundays loss and hopes to do more of the same Tuesday. The Capitals finished with 37 shots and the four goals but couldn’t hold the early two-goal lead, even though the Flyers managed only 23 shots on goal.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Capitals, check out #ALLCAPS rumors, rankings, and news here.

“I thought we could have scored more,” Washington coach Peter Laviolette said. “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 made the most out of their chances while Washington struggled at times on defense, something that has popped up at times this season.

Rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek was starting his 10th straight game but got pulled after allowing Philadelphia’s fourth goal late in the second period. He allowed four goals on 14 shots, and veteran Craig Anderson finished in his first appearance as a Capital.

The question now will be who starts in the net Tuesday and whether Vanecek will get a break after starting 10 in a row.

No. 1 goalie Ilya Samsonov remains on the COVID-19 protocol list. Samsonov and forward Evgeny Kuznetsov have been in COVID-19 protocol since Jan. 20, and forward Jakub Vrana was added to that list on Saturday.

Related: NHL games today – Complete TV schedule

After scoring twice on Sunday, Alex Ovechkin now has a total of 711 goals, just six behind Phil Esposito for sixth place on the all-time goals list (led by Wayne Gretzky’s 894). Ovechkin finished with two goals and two assists, all of which came in the first two periods.

Washington now has dropped three straight games, all in regulation.

–Field Level Media