Recap: Capitals at Flyers 4.16.24

PHILADELPHIA -- T.J. Oshie scored the tie-breaking goal with 3:00 remaining in the third period, and the Washington Capitals clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.

"It feels really good, honestly," Capitals forward Dylan Strome said. "Obviously to do it on a back to back, tough building, tough team to play against. They're fast. They controlled play for a decent amount of the game, decent parts of the game, but I thought we hung in there. But I'd be lying if I said it didn't feel really good."

Oshie put the Capitals ahead 2-1 with an empty-net goal at 17:00 of the third. The Flyers, who needed a regulation win and a Detroit Red Wings regulation loss to the Montreal Canadiens to stay alive for a playoff spot, had pulled goalie Samuel Ersson with 3:10 remaining and the puck in the Washington end.

Nic Dowd then chipped the puck out of the zone to Oshie, who had a clear lane to the net when Philadelphia forward Garnet Hathaway fell.

"It was kind of surprising, actually," Oshie said. "Skating down the ice, I didn't even know the goalie was out until it looked like 'Hath' was trying to block a shot there. So, it felt good. It was such a great game. It's kind of unfortunate that that's the way it had to end, but they obviously needed a regulation win, so it's understandable. But that was a tough battle, that was a tough fight out there for us."

WSH@PHI: Oshie whips the go-ahead goal into the empty net

Alex Ovechkin scored, and Charlie Lindgren made 27 saves in his second start of a back to back for the Capitals (40-31-11), who won four of their final five games to clinch the second wild card from the Eastern Conference; they will face the New York Rangers in the first round. Lindgren made 16 saves in a 2-0 win against the Boston Bruins on Monday.

The Capitals finished the regular season tied for points (91) with the Red Wings, who defeated the Canadiens 5-4 in a shootout, but owned the tiebreaker based on regulation wins (32 for Washington, 27 for Detroit).

It's the ninth playoff berth in 10 seasons for Washington, which missed qualifying last season for the first time since 2013-14.

"Unreal," Ovechkin said. "We fight through lots of stuff that happen at deadline, injuries ... but I think the belief inside the locker room was tremendous. We enjoyed that process. It's special. That's why we play hockey. You want to be in that type of atmosphere, you want to be in, and we beat pretty good teams to be able to make it."

Erik Johnson scored for the Flyers (38-33-11), who were eliminated from playoff contention after losing nine of their last 11. Ersson made 16 saves.

"This was a high-stakes game," Philadelphia coach John Tortorella said. "Started off very tentative, but then I felt we got on the attack. Give them credit. They defended well. They defended a lot. And we just couldn't find our way."

The Flyers had been in a playoff position for most of the season, but lost eight in a row (0-6-2) from March 24-April 9 to fall out of a spot.

"From the start of the year, I think everyone was counting us out," Philadelphia forward Scott Laughton said. "Probably had that eight-game losing streak at the worst time of the year. Couldn't really regain ground and that's what cost us."

WSH@PHI: Ovechkin finds twine, getting a piece of the shot by McIlrath

Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 18:08 of the first period. Dylan McIlrath one-timed a puck from the right point that went off Ovechkin's hip and past Ersson.

Johnson tied it 1-1 at 12:29 of the second period when he got to the front of the net and redirected Egor Zamula's point shot past Lindgren.

Philadelphia nearly scored the game's first goal at 8:17 of the first period when Joel Farabee's shot from the left side bounced off Lindgren's shoulder, popped in the air, went off Farabee's glove and into the net. But the goal was waved off when it was ruled the referee had blown the play dead after losing sight of the puck before it crossed the goal line.

"I think once you start playing with the lead, it changes up things," Laughton said. "... We kept playing, grinded, second period especially thought we turned it on, created some momentum for ourselves. They get an empty-net goal."

NOTES: Ovechkin has scored 49 goals in 74 games against the Flyers, his second-most against any team; he's scored 50 in 90 games against the Carolina Hurricanes. ... Strome finished the season leading the Capitals with 67 points (27 goals, 40 assists); he's the first player other than Ovechkin to lead the Capitals in scoring in an 82-game season since Nicklas Backstrom in 2016-17. ... Dowd played his 500th NHL game.

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