Mantha shines in debut, Ovechkin scores as Caps rout Flyers
Washington – Anthony Mantha had a two points in his Washington debut, Alex Ovechkin scored the 728th goal of his NHL career and the Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1 Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory.
The East Division-leading Capitals went 3 for 3 on the power play as part of another offensive outburst. They routed the banged-up Boston Bruins 8-1 Sunday night on the eve of the trade deadline.
They gave up skilled young forward Jakub Vrana, a first-round pick and a second-rounder to get Mantha from Detroit in the hopes of better positioning themselves for another deep playoff run. So far, so good: Mantha picked up an assist on Tom Wilson’s goal in the first period, then showed off his shot in the second for his 12th of the season.
Ovechkin scored his team-leading 22nd in the third, beating Brian Elliott from his trademark spot inside the faceoff circle on the power play. The Capitals’ captain is now three back of Marcel Dionne for fifth on the career goals list.
Washington’s longest- and shortest-tenured players weren’t the only ones to get in on the goal-scoring fun against Philadelphia, which sold at the deadline and looked like a team ready for the offseason. Conor Sheary, Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin scored the other goals.
Sheary added two assists for a three-point game. Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his 10th victory of the season.
Sean Couturier scored Philadelphia’s only goal, Elliott allowed six goals on 32 shots and the Flyers lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Samsonov started for Washington after rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek won the previous two games. The Capitals didn’t add a veteran between the pipes at the deadline and know Henrik Lundqvist won’t be coming back, so the net belongs to Samsonov and Vanecek for the rest of the season.
“We found out that the two goaltenders that we have are pretty good and we have a lot of confidence in them,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Trough the way the year has evolved and the way the goaltenders have played, we feel like these guys are ready for the job.”
But Laviolette is in zero rush to name a No. 1 goalie.
“I think it would be a mistake to tab one guy and run him 13 games out of the last 15 or 16 that we have and say ‘This is our guy,’” he said. “Just keep these guys doing what they’re doing, having them compete each day to be the great goalie … that they have been for us. I think that that’s important.”
The Flyers traded pending free agent forward Michael Raffl to the Flyers for a fifth-round pick Monday, but he didn’t make his Capitals debut against his former team because of an injury the team thinks is minor.
“He’s dealing with something,” Laviolette said. “We don’t feel like it’s anything that’s going to be way long term, but we need to get him here – he’s not here yet – and just do an evaluation and do what’s best for him getting ready for the playoffs.”
While Philadelphia traded Raffl and sent defenseman Erik Gustafsson to Montreal, forward Scott Laughton stuck around and signed a $15 million, five-year extension. General manager Chuck Fletcher received many calls from contending colleagues about Laughton, who wanted to stay and got the long-term contract he wanted.
“It was pretty important for me to have that security,” Laughton said. “I really believe in this franchise and the people around it, so I want to be a part of something here where we can do something special, and having that term is part of that.”