The Flyers Capitals matchup was in some ways a one-game playoff to be considered the winner of the Metropolitan division, and as it turns out the Flyers only needed one line to come alive and to beat the Caps.
The combination of Kevin Hayes centering Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny with a flash of offense from Travis Sanheim would be all that the Flyers needed to skate past the Capitals by a score of 3-1 and secure a finish of no worse than 2nd in the Eastern Conference.
The first Flyers goal also came with a bit of help from a former Flyer. A weak clear from Radko Gudas resulted in a pick-off from Kevin Hayes, who connected with Travis Konecny. With a less than favorable angle Konecny hit a behind the back pass and found Scott Laughton all alone in the slot, who made no mistake in slamming home the goal. That would be all the scoring in the 1st period.
In what proved to be an overall sloppy game, the 2nd period ended up being a penalty box parade. While the Flyers were bad on the powerplay and continued to be perfect on the penalty kill, it was 4 on 4 where they were able to add another goal. Laughton got the puck to Kevin Hayes, who dodged multiple caps until Travis Sanheim was able to find a seam. Hayes got the puck to Sanheim who got Holtby moving laterally and beat him up high.
To round it out, Laughton scored another goal in the 3rd period. Konecny fished a puck out from behind the net and got it to Hayes. With no pressure, Hayes was able to spy Laughton as he moved into a soft spot next to the net, and tapped in the pass that came from Hayes. It would be his third assist of the night, Konecny’s 2nd and Laughton’s 3rd goal of the round-robin.
The Caps got a late but inconsequential goal on a puck that tipped off Robert Hagg and then a Capital before slipping by Brian Elliot. Elliot looked good in his time in net and should be ready if he’s called upon during the Flyers playoff run.
Joel Farabee slotted into the lineup for the injured Michael Raffl and created several high-quality chances. The combination of Derek Grand centering Farabee and NAK seemed to be on the verge of scoring several times. JVR also took a seat today and Connor Bunnaman joined the 4th line and after a shaky start found himself part of an effective trio which spent valuable time in the offensive zone keeping the Caps from generating any comeback in the 3rd period.
The game which decides the #1 seed will happen Saturday, August 8th against the Lightning at a TBD time. If they win, they will face the lowest remaining seed from the qualifying round in the 1st round of the playoffs. If they lose, they’ll face the 2nd lowest seed. The Flyers have been surging and after improving their standing have rediscovered their momentum from pre-Covid times.