Washington Capitals goalie Jose Theodore, left, looks for the puck as Philadelphia Flyers center Mike Richards (18) skates to the net during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Nick Wass)
WASHINGTON - Brooks Laich scored twice - including while shorthanded in the third period - and Alex Ovechkin finally converted a penalty shot as the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 on Sunday.
Washington, the league's highest scoring team, had at least four goals for the seventh straight game to improve to 6-1 during that stretch.
Mike Knuble and Alexander Semin also scored, and two-time reigning league MVP Ovechkin capped Washington's scoring with 4:12 to play - at last converting a penalty shot after going 0-for-5 to start his career.
Jose Theodore made 30 saves to go 2-for-2 in his first set of consecutive starts since mid-December. The stop of the game, however, was made by Washington defenceman Tom Poti.
With the Capitals scrambling to kill a penalty in the second, Poti perched next to Theodore and got his right skate in front of Jeff Carter's point-blank shot that would have tied the game 3-3. Carter was so sure the puck had gone in that he raised both arms to celebrate.
Carter, James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere scored for the Flyers, who outshot the Capitals 33-22 but were shut out after the first period until Briere's consolation goal in the final minute.
In addition to Poti's stop on Carter, Philadelphia's other near-misses came when Mike Richards hit the right post during a four-on-four stretch in the second period and when Scott Hartnell had a third-period goal waved off because he kicked the puck into the net.
Ray Emery, playing his first game since having abdominal surgery Dec. 9, made 17 saves for the Flyers, who have lost two straight after a four-game winning streak. Emery's last game had also been against the Capitals, an 8-2 loss in Philadelphia on Dec. 5 that also happened to be the first game for coach Peter Laviolette after John Stevens was fired.
The game was tied 2-2 after the first. Semin gave Washington the lead for good in the second with he put in the rebound on a power play.
Laich got goal No. 4 in the third after the Flyers turned the puck over in the neutral zone. Laich beat Richards to the puck and scored on a breakaway for his first two-goal game since Nov. 1.
Two of the NHL's top-scoring teams wasted no time living up to their reputations, with four of the first 15 shots finding the net. Carter opened the scoring with a power-play goal, putting a wrist shot from the left circle between Theodore's pads.
The Capitals tied it when Knuble waited on the doorstep to deposit a cross-crease pass from Ovechkin, but the Flyers regained the lead when rookie van Riemsdyk's wrist shot beat Theodore high to the glove side.
Then it was Washington's turn. When Emery couldn't control the rebound from Tomas Fleischmann's shot, Laich was there to stuff in the rebound to make it 2-2.
NOTES: When the Capitals scored only one goal in the second period, it broke a streak in which Washington had scored twice in six straight periods - not counting overtime. ... The Capitals won three of four meetings between the teams this season. ... Knuble has six goals in six games. ... Hartnell returned after missing one game with a stomach virus. ... Washington D John Erskine sat out his fourth straight game with an upper body injury, and D Brian Pothier missed his second in a row with an undisclosed injury.