- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2006

PHILADELPHIA — It was a rare opportunity for the Washington Capitals — visiting Philadelphia and seeing a Flyers team that resembled outcasts from the minor leagues. It was a chance for the Caps to wipe out years of frustration and losing.

The Caps, who entered the game with a 16-game winless streak (0-15-1) in Philadelphia, did not let the opportunity pass. They scored four times in the first period and coasted to a 5-3 victory over the Flyers, an organization in serious turmoil. The Flyers already have fired their coach, have had their longtime general manager resign and had one candidate turn down the GM position.

Washington’s last win in Philadelphia came on a 3-2 triumph on Jan. 31, 1998, with Michal Pivonka scoring the winner.

“You try to win in buildings where you haven’t, it’s part of our progress,” coach Glen Hanlon said. “It says something about where you are as far as building a team.”

Goalie Brent Johnson, who made 33 saves last night, had never beaten Philadelphia in his career, going 0-5 with a horrific goals-against average of 5.58. His saves percentage against the Flyers was a few steps beyond dreadful (.818).

“This victory here, being up 4-1 after the first and holding on, it’s a pretty big thing for us,” Johnson said. “Yeah, I knew I had never beaten these people. They’re tough in their own building. I’ve never been able to get a victory here but tonight, with the help of everybody else around me, we got it.”

The win was the first of the season for Johnson (1-1-2), who has played well during his limited duty this season. He was beaten 13 minutes into the first period when left wing Simon Gagne scored off a breakaway, created when the Caps turned the puck over at the end of a power play.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice, Ben Clymer scored his first and second of the season in his first game back as a wing and defenseman Shaone Morrisonn, who had only one goal all last season, also got his first of the season.

In the process, the Caps shelled Robert Esche in the first 20 minutes and new coach John Stevens mercifully replaced him with Antero Niittymaki to start the second.

Ovechkin, who appeared to be hurt slightly at the end of the Atlanta game Friday night, showed no sign of injury. His first goal, which opened the scoring, was a tap off a rebound through Esche’s legs. His second, at the end of the first period, came when Esche was unable to handle a soft shot that glanced off his right leg.

Clymer, who had been a defenseman prior to returning to right wing last night, batted a puck out of mid-air past Esche for one goal and ripped a shot through Niittymaki from the slot for his second early in the final period.

“As a team we knew we had to come out and get some points,” Clymer said. “The game against Atlanta left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth, it’s a game we should have won. I was fired up to play. Being back with [Brian Sutherby and Matt Bradley] is a good fit for me.”

Morrisonn rarely strays below the blue line and didn’t go far into the zone last night for his goal. He let a weak drive go in the general direction of the net 18:24 into the opening period and Esche either didn’t see it, was screened or misjudged its speed. Esche completely missed the puck and Morrisonn picked up his third career score.

There were occasional boos and catcalls from the less than packed house, far more accustomed to seeing a better brand of hockey from the Flyers.

Note — Center Kris Beech and wing Brooks Laich were the healthy scratches last night. Right wing Richard Zednik was a medical scratch with an undisclosed ailment. The Caps had gone five straight games without a medical scratch, which might well be a team record.

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