- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 11, 2006

PHILADELPHIA — The Washington Capitals haven’t won in Philadelphia since 1998. They didn’t do much to change that last night.

The Caps fell to the Flyers 5-4 at Wachovia Center in a brutally physical contest that looked like the game as it was played decades ago, in the process falling to 0-15-1 in their last 16 games in the city.

Washington last beat the Flyers in Philadelphia on Jan. 31, 1998, 3-2 in overtime. Not coincidentally, the Caps went to the Stanley Cup finals that season.

“Since I’ve been here we’ve tried not to make a point of it,” Caps coach Glen Hanlon said of the eight years of futility in Philadelphia. “We just want them to be part of the solution and not look back.”

The Caps might have broken the streak last night had they taken advantage of the opportunities presented to them. In short, the game was tied 2-2 early in the second period when Washington had a two-man advantage for 1:38. Chances like that don’t come often.

The Caps took three shots on Robert Esche while the Flyers were down a pair and none as the rest of the penalty time played out. The opportunity to put Philadelphia down passed.

Soon after, the Caps were caught with too many men on the ice. The Flyers scored on the ensuing power play and took command. By the time the Caps recovered, they had allowed a tie game to become a 5-2 deficit. Philadelphia does not lose three-goal leads in its building.

“We battled hard,” Hanlon said. “Physically, I thought we controlled that part of the game. We had chances at the end — we had two whacks at a puck a few feet from the goal line — but it came down to special teams again. Most of our problems this year have come on the power play.”

The Caps definitely were physical. Nolan Yonkman took on Turner Stevenson in the first period and won his bout easily. Doug Doull, called up earlier in the day from Hershey, was on the ice just four seconds when he got into a knuckle drill with heavyweight Donald Brashear and won a close decision. It may have been eight years since a Caps player beat Brashear toe-to-toe.

The Doull bout was significant for the Caps. He was brought in to see whether he would engage in his specialty at this level because there have been no enforcers to keep predators off Alex Ovechkin’s back.

Ovechkin, meanwhile, scored his 35th goal last night after failing to find the net in his previous five games. He also had his 33rd assist on Dainius Zubrus’ goal to give him 68 points on the season, bettering the Caps’ rookie point record by one. It had been shared by Bobby Carpenter and Chris Valentine, both in 1981-82.

Washington got goals by Brian Sutherby (11) and Brian Willsie (11) in the first 11 minutes of the game to take a 2-1 lead. The Sutherby goal was the first the Caps had scored in 131 minutes, 23 seconds.

The Caps play host to Pittsburgh tonight. They haven’t beaten the Penguins this season, either.

Notes — The Flyers had lost a league-leading 273 man-games to injury entering last night, so the Caps’ total of 142 doesn’t look all that bad. Out last night, though, were center Jeff Halpern (back), right wings Chris Clark (lower body) and Matt Bradley (foot) and defenseman Steve Eminger (sprained ankle). Halpern is the only one who even has a chance of playing tonight against Pittsburgh. … Besides Doull, players called up from Hershey were Boyd Gordon, Mike Green, Dave Steckel and Boyd Kane.

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