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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After seeing his team squander third-period leads in each of their last two losses, Washington Capitals first-year coach Adam Oates needed to see some resilience against the Philadelphia Flyers.
It didn't come easily, but third-period goals by forwards Wojtek Wolski and Troy Brouwer gave the Caps a two-goal lead and goaltender Braden Holtby held on at the end to give the Capitals a 3-2 victory in front of a sellout crowd at Verizon Center.
The Capitals (2-5-1) moved out of the Eastern Conference basement with the win.
Looking for just their second win on the road, the Flyers (2-6-0) grabbed an early lead when Bruno Gervais scored his first goal as a Flyer 11:43 into the second period.
Moments after a bulrush by Alex Ovechkin ended with him sliding into the Flyers' net, Gervais pounced on a Danny Briere rebound for his first goal with his third NHL team.
The Capitals roared back with their biggest offensive explosion of the season.
Nicklas Backstrom got it started with 2:18 remaining in the second period when he was sprung on a breakaway on a quick pass from John Carlson. Backstrom faked forehand and beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a backhander. It was Backstrom's first goal of the season and it tied the score at 1-1.
The Caps came into the game 1-2-0 in games that were tied after two periods and they quickly built a two-goal lead on goals by Wolski and Brouwer just 3:46 apart.
Wolski stripped Luke Schenn of the puck in the neutral zone and streaked in alone on Bryzgalov, beating him with a backhand to the goalie's stick side.
With the Flyers on their heels, Brouwer made it 3-2 at the 6:44 mark. Parked in the left circle, he took a cross-ice pass from Mike Green, measured Bryzgalov and snapped a shot over the goalie's right shoulder.
The Flyers fought back when Brayden Schenn netted his first of the season at the 10:30 mark. Schenn planted himself in the crease and deposited Matt Read's shot off the right post behind Braden Holtby to draw the Flyers to within 3-2.
NOTES. Capitals defenseman John Erskine could face league discipline after throwing an elbow to the head of Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds. No penalty was called on the play and Simmonds suffered a bloody nose. On the faceoff immediately following the hit, Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves with Capitals forward Matt Hendricks, and both players were handed game misconducts. ... In an attempt to re-ignite stagnant offenses, both teams shuffled their top lines. The Flyers went with Danny Briere, Claude Giroux and Simmonds on a top line, while the Capitals tried Alex Ovechkin on a line with Mike Ribeiro and Wolski. ... Flyers right wing Mike Knuble suited up against his former team for the first time this season. Knuble scored 59 goals in three seasons with the Capitals before signing with the Flyers, but he's also had success against the Caps, with 27 points in 38 career games against Washington. "There were some lean years for the Capitals," Knuble said before the game, "so don't believe all those numbers." ... The Capitals were without forward Brooks Laich (lower body) and defenseman Jack Hillen (shoulder), while the Flyers were without right wing Scott Hartnell (broken foot). ... The Capitals return to action Sunday when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time this season at 12:30. The Flyers' next game is Saturday at home against the Carolina Hurricanes.