Before the opening of the regular season, Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Stevens decided to give the alternate captain title to 3rd year center Mike Richards.
Stevens is certainly not regretting that decision early in the Flyers season.
Richards brought the Flyers out of a 1st period funk by winning a fight and scoring a goal, leading the team to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on Friday night at Verizon Center.
R.J. Umberger added a goal and assist, while Danny Briere scored the other Philadelphia goal. Philadelphia's backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki stopped 24 of 26 shots to earn his first win since February.
Richards took his frustration over a luckluster start out on Washington forward Brooks Laich with a fight late in the 1st period. Although Richards wound up needing 13 stitches after the fight for a cut on his nose, Richards got the best of Laich, and provided the spark the team needed to come out and compete hard in the 2nd period.
Briere cashed in on the Flyers ensuing energy at 8:03 of the 2nd period with his 5th goal of the season when he and Umberger took advantage of a tired Washington checking line. Briere started with a give-and-go play and got the puck back right in front of Washington goaltender Olaf Kolzig for the tap-in goal that tied the score at 1-1.
Richards got his 8th goal and put the Flyers on top at 15:52 on another give-and-go between himself and Joffrey Lupul. After getting the pass, Richards carried the puck deep and lasered a shot to the far side and beat Kolzig under the glove for the 2-1 lead.
Ben Eager also provided another emotional charge for the Flyers in the 2nd period in his fight with Brain Sutherby. A series of unanswered lefts sent Sutherby to the ice and added to the Flyers' momentum.
Umberger registered what would prove to be the game winning goal with his 2nd of the season just 1:33 into the 3rd period. The power play goal came on the first half of a 4 minute high sticking double minor on the Caps' Brian Pothier. Umberger made a series of moves to gain separation from the Washington defense and released a slapshot that made it through the screening efforts of Scott Hartnell and into the twine.
Alexander Ovechkin brought the Capitals back to within a goal on the power play with just 4:08 to left in regulation, putting the Flyers on notice that they had to keep up the pressure to leave with 2 points. The Flyers continued to pressure the puck carrier, and held off all of remaining late efforts by Washington.
Pressure seemed to be the formula for success for the Flyers through the last two periods, holding the Caps to just 12 shots over the last 40 minutes. Washington got 14 of their 26 shots in the 1st period. The Flyers were so effective in shutting down the Capitals' offense that they did not surrender a shot to Washington in 13:38, stretching from the final moments of the 2nd period until deep into the 3rd.
Tomas Fleischmann provided the other Washington goal, giving them a 1-0 lead at 7:29 of the 1st period.
NOTES: Alexander Ovechkin has now scored a goal in 8 straight games against the Flyers. The win breaks a 5 game losing streak vs. the Capitals. The Flyers have 3 games left on their season-long 8 game road trip on which they are 2-3 thus far.