PHILADELPHIA — A belief in each other has revived the Flyers' playoff chances the last month.
Michael Del Zotto scored late in the third period Sunday, lifting Philadelphia to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals.
Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds also had goals for Philadelphia, which began the day trailing Boston by four points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia was 13 points out of the playoff race Jan. 16 but has clawed its way back with 20 points in its last 13 games.
"We want to be accountable for ourselves and play for our teammates and that's what we did (today)," Giroux said. "We played for each other. We played smart and that's how we want to play."
Tom Wilson and Joel Ward scored for Washington, whose four-game winning streak ended. The Capitals lost for just the third time in 11 games.
"I thought we started off a little slow," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "We just weren't sharp, and they forced us not to be sharp."
Del Zotto scored with 4 minutes, 13 seconds left, beating Braden Holtby on the glove side with a wrist shot from the left circle. Jakub Voracek set up the goal with a cross-ice pass. Voracek, who entered the game tied for fourth in the league in points, matched his career-high with his 62nd point.
"This team is very tight, they get along great and they love each other," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "Sometimes it doesn't transfer onto the ice, but they trust each other, for sure."
Simmonds extended his career-best points streak to eight games when he put the Flyers up 2-0 1:34 into the second period. Mark Streit's shot from the point was saved by Holtby and bounced into the air and behind him. Looking like a batter, Simmonds knocked the puck out of the air into the goal.
But Washington rebounded with two goals and the teams entered the third period tied at 2. Wilson shot under Rob Zepp's pads from close range after a cross-ice pass from John Carlson with 14:37 left, and Ward tied it with a turnaround slap shot from the left circle that went high over Zepp with 4:38 remaining.
Holtby stoned Ryan White on a breakaway with 1 ½ minutes left in the second to keep the game tied.
Both teams had their chances in the third before Del Zotto's goal. Philadelphia's best chance came with 12 Â½ minutes left when Holtby denied Giroux with his right pad from just in front of the crease. Washington had three really good opportunities, with Ward's miss on a breakaway after Simmonds' turnover with seven minutes left their best.
"We had chances and just missed it," Ward said. "It was back and forth, we just couldn't capitalize at the end."
Giroux ended a 10-game goal-scoring skid with his 17th of the season on the power play 4:39 into the contest. Philadelphia went on the man-advantage when Jay Beagle tripped Giroux, and the Flyers captain made Washington pay. With Simmonds screening Holtby, Giroux fired a wrister from above the left circle between Holtby's pads to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead.
"It felt great," Giroux said. "You want to be able to contribute and help the team win."
Alex Ovechkin nearly tied it with nine minutes left in the period, but his wrist shot from the right circle caromed off the left post.
In a surprising move, Berube started 33-year-old rookie Zepp over veteran Ray Emery. Zepp made 20 saves in Saturday's 3-2 shootout win over league-leading Nashville, including both Predators attempts in the tiebreaker, and Berube said "a gut feeling" kept Zepp in the lineup on Sunday. Zepp was playing in just his eighth career game. Both are filling in for starter Steve Mason, who missed his seventh game because of a knee injury.
Zepp made 21 saves.
NOTES: Washington LW Jason Chimera knocked Zac Rinaldo down with a one-punch uppercut during a second-period fight. Rinaldo was playing his second straight game after missing the previous 10, eight because of suspension for an illegal hit of Pittsburgh's Kris Letang. ... Flyers C Sean Couturier limped off the ice with 30 seconds left in the first period with an apparent right knee injury — a knee-to-knee open-ice hit by Matt Niskanen, who was penalized on the play but returned in the second period. . Philadelphia won its fourth straight at home against the Capitals.
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