Last night, the Flyers played a high-powered physical game that seemed to baffle Washington in an 8-2 loss.
The loss, which ended the Capitals' four-game unbeaten streak, was the team's worst of the season. The previous worst was 6-2 at Winnipeg on Oct. 26. But Washington remains in second place in the Patrick Division, as the New York Rangers had the night off.
"I don't know how far back, but I'd have to go back a long way to find a game in which we've played this bad," said Capitals coach Terry Murray. "We had turnovers in our own zone, loose pucks, we overhandled the puck and let them walk in with breakaways. The unforced errors were ridiculous."
The Capitals, who have lost four of their past five road games, also were just two of eight on the power play.
"I think it was just our effort," said Philadelphia coach Bill Dineen. "It was our effort causing them all sorts of problems."
Said Kevin Dineen, who had a hat trick: "We pick-pocketed them a couple of times. That's just good aggressive hockey. A lot of the goals we had just came from hard work."
But from Murray's point of view, the Flyers did nothing unusual. And he was so fed up after two periods that he pulled goalie Jim Hrivnak, who had given up six goals on 22 shots, and replaced him with rookie Olaf Kolzig.
"Jimmy was shaky, and he let in a big goal right at the start of the second period," Murray said of Eric Lindros' goal that gave Philadelphia a 4-1 lead. "You start the second period hoping you can make something happen and we came out playing better, but that goal was unfortunate."
Although this game seemed the perfect example of a team loss, Hrivnak seemed hardest hit, leaving the locker room without comment.
Kolzig was called up just last Saturday night from Rochester of the AHL after Don Beaupre strained his groin before the Caps game with the Chicago Blackhawks. He was playing in the NHL for the first time since October 1989 in Toronto.
"Five days ago," Kolzig said, "I couldn't have guessed I'd be in this position. I just tried to do the best I could."
He was crowded on the first Flyers' opportunity in the third, but cleared the puck and sent Ric Nattress spinning from post to the boards.
At 17:15 he made his first save on a long shot. Then when Philadelphia went on the power play, he made a save on Lindros. But moments later, Dineen scored, squeezing the puck between Kozig and the post for his sixth career hat trick with 11:09 left in the game.
Philadelphia's Ryan McGill closed out the scoring with 7:06 to go.
"We simply weren't focused," said Murray.
"It was like we gave this one away," said center Mike Ridley, who assisted on the Capitals' first goal. "We have no excuses."
And the Capitals weren't looking for any. Defenseman Al Iafrate, who has been the hottest Capital of late, seemed to want to take full responsibility for the loss.
"I played bad," he said. "I let the team down and that's a good part of the reason why we lost. That and the fact Philadelphia seemed hungrier for the puck as a team than we were."
Philadelphia took a 3-1 lead in the first period on two goals by Dineen and one by Nattress, while the Caps countered with a power-play goal by Sylvain Cote.
The second period was much the same, with Lindros scoring just 50 seconds into the period. Mark Recchi stole the puck from Iafrate and scored against a prone Hrivnak and Keith Acton scored with less than a minute to play for a 6-2 lead.
Only Michal Pivonka managed a goal for Washington in the period. It came on the power play with an assist from Dimitri Khristich and Dale Hunter, who notched his 800th career point.