The Flyers, eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for
the fourth time in five years last spring, are 3-0-2 under new
coach Ken Hitchcock. Washington had won its first three games -- its
best start since opening with four victories in 1997-98.
Esche made his presence felt right away, attacking Peter Bondra
early in the first period after the Capitals' forward fell into him. Esche, who grew up a fan of former Flyer Ron Hextall, evoked
images of the hot-tempered goaltender by hitting Bondra twice with
his blocker as he slumped to the ice and covered up.
Though his penalty led to a two-man advantage for Washington,
Esche quickly endeared himself to Flyers fans, who still revel in
the tradition of the "Broad Street Bullies.''
"It was a dumb play, but sometimes it helps you a lot,'' Esche
said. "It really got me into the game.''
Esche's performance might earn him a start against Buffalo on
Tuesday instead of Roman Cechmanek. Hitchcock said he'll make the
"He was solid and sharp,'' Hitchcock said of Esche, who came to
the Flyers from Phoenix in June along with center Michal Handzus
for backup goalie Brian Boucher and a draft pick. "He looked
better today than he did when he showed up in training camp. He
controlled the rebounds and the shots.''
Just 99 seconds after LeClair tied it at 1, Gagne gave the
Flyers a 2-1 lead with his first goal. Gagne's shot from the left
wing hit the stick of Capitals forward Dainius Zubrus and bounced
over goaltender Olaf Kolzig's shoulder.
Donald Brashear made it 3-1 just 2:01 into the third period with
his first goal on a backhander from the side of the net that
bounced off the shoulder of Capitals defenseman Jean-Francois
Fortin and behind Kolzig's back.
Kolzig finished with 30 saves.
"We got away from what made us successful in the first period,
and the Flyers turned it up a notch,'' Capitals first-year coach
Bruce Cassidy said.
The Flyers, who went 1-for-6 on the power play and 0-for-2 with
a two-man advantage in Thursday night's 3-3 tie against the New
York Islanders, failed to score on their first two power-play
opportunities before LeClair's goal tied it at 1 with 4:30 left in
the second period.
Mark Recchi started the play with a crossing pass to Jeremy
Roenick, who was standing to the right side behind the net. Roenick
sent a long pass to Kim Johnsson at the point. Johnsson blasted a
shot that LeClair deflected between his legs and past Kolzig for
his seventh goal.
Robert Lang gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal
4:16 into the game. After Johnsson was called for interference,
Esche got a roughing penalty, giving Washington a two-man advantage
for 1:39. With 3 seconds remaining on Johnsson's penalty, Lang
wristed a rebound past Esche's outstretched glove.
"All three goals were deflections, and you can't do anything
about it,'' Lang said.
The Flyers were 4-0 against the Capitals last season,
outscoring them 18-4. They are 10-0-1 against Washington at the
First Union Center since a 3-2 overtime loss on Jan. 31, 1998. ...
The Capitals played the third of an eight-game road trip that spans
18 days. ... Flyers captain Keith Primeau returned after missing
two games with an injured right ankle. ... LeClair has at least one
point in each game this season. ... Flyers forward Radovan Somik
left the game with a strained groin in the third period and didn't
return. ... Capitals right wing Jaromir Jagr was held without a
point for the first time this season. ... The Flyers, who sold out
27 games last season, haven't had a full house for either of their
first two home games.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Arena: Wells Fargo Center Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Referees: Stephen Walkom, Ian Walsh Linesmen: Brad Kovachik, Brian Murphy
Attendance: 19,047 (97.7% full)
Team Stat Comparison
Power Play Goals
Power Play Opportunities
Shots on Goal
Robert Lang (2)
(Power Play) Assists: Kip Miller, Peter Bondra
John LeClair (7)
(Power Play) Assists: Kim Johnsson, Jeremy Roenick
Simon Gagne (1)
Assists: Justin Williams, Keith Primeau
Donald Brashear (1)
Assists: Marty Murray, Justin Williams