PHILADELPHIA — The addition of Carl Hagelin's speed and playmaking ability a little more than two weeks ago has created the best kind of problem for the Washington Capitals: On some nights, it's hard to tell which line is their top one.
Against Philadelphia on Thursday night, it was the third line of Hagelin, Brett Connolly and Lars Eller that carried the load.
Connolly had two goals and an assist, Eller had a goal and Hagelin added two assists to help the Capitals beat the Flyers 5-2.
The line was put together March 1, three games after Hagelin's arrival from Los Angeles. They've now combined for 13 points in seven games and Eller has scored in three of the team's last four games.
"There was good chemistry early," Connolly said. "He's a good player and fits in really well with our team. It's a good style for him. We get up the ice and he can skate."
Evgeny Kuznetsov added a goal and an assist and Tom Wilson also scored as the Capitals remained two points ahead of the second-place New York Islanders atop the Metropolitan Division. Braden Holtby stopped 22 shots.
James van Riemsdyk and Scott Laughton scored for Philadelphia, and Carter Hart finished with 27 saves. The Flyers remained five points out of the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.
Washington scored twice in the first 9 1/2 minutes, never allowing the home crowd to get behind a Philadelphia team needing a win to help their playoff push.
Connolly opened the scoring less than three minutes in and set up Eller for the second goal before the midpoint of the period.
"We were emotionally engaged right from the first shift," Eller said. "We executed and did the right things and got rewarded."
Van Riemsdyk awoke a sleepy Wells Fargo Center a little over a minute into the second when he beat Holtby with a wrist shot as a Capitals penalty was expiring for his 21st.
However, Connolly restored the two-goal lead as he won the puck from Flyers defenceman Philippe Myers and, on an odd-man rush, beat Hart high with a wrist shot for his 19th of the season at 8:43.
"I was just kind of weighing my options," Connolly said. "I knew we had a 2- or 3-on-1. Their defenceman let me take a shot and I took it and put it where I wanted to."
Just over a minute later, Wilson got his 20th on a wide-open shot from the slot off a pass from Kuznetsov to make it 4-1, a nearly insurmountable lead with the way the Capitals have been playing lately. They've won eight of their last nine games.
"There aren't a lot of holes in their lineup, from both an offensive and defensive standpoint," Flyers coach Scott Gordon said. "And the guy in net is pretty good, too."
Laughton pulled the Flyers within two again with 7:38 left in the second.
Philadelphia had three power plays in the third, but couldn't beat Holtby. The goalie stopped all 10 Flyers shots in the period.
"They made us work for it," Holtby said.
Kuznetsov capped the scoring with his 18th, an empty-net goal with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.
NOTES: The Flyers were 0 for 4 on the power play and are now 0 for 12 over their last five games. ... Philadelphia played its second consecutive game without top winger Jake Voracek, who was finishing a two-game suspension for an illegal hit on the New York Islanders' Johnny Boychuk on Saturday. ... Hart was playing in his first game in three weeks after missing time with a lower-body injury. ... Washington has beaten Philadelphia in all three games the teams have played so far this year. The season series ends in Washington on March 24.
Capitals: At Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Flyers: At Toronto on Friday night.
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