LANDOVER -- It wasn't supposed to be this easy.
The Washington Capitals needed only 16 shots and 2 hours, 11 minutes to defeat the usually tough Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1, before 14,962 at the Capital Centre last night.
These Patrick Division rivals have hooked up in some of the most exciting games in recent years in the National Hockey League, but last night's contest was dull.
"It ended so quickly, with so few shots and scoring chances," Washington coach Terry Murray said. "It was a game I was a little concerned about. The Flyers certainly played well in Chicago [a 5-4 victory Sunday]."
Washington built a 3-0 lead after two periods and coasted in the third period. The Capitals took only one shot in the final period.
Philadelphia got off only 13 shots, the fewest shots in franchise history. The previous low for the Flyers was 14 shots against the Detroit Red Wings in December 1968.
The total of 29 shots by the two teams was the lowest for a Washington game at the Capital Centre.
The victory moved the Capitals (36 points) within two points of second-place Philadelphia in the Patrick Division.
"It is Patrick Division play, and you have to play well against your division rivals," Murray said. "To make the playoffs, you have to figure out a way to beat the teams in your division. We did that tonight with strong defensive play. We limited their quality scoring chances and scored on our opportunities."
Dino Ciccarelli, playing only his third game since missing 21 with a broken thumb, led the Washington offense with a goal and an assist.
Ciccarelli has two goals and one assist since returning.
"We stuck to our game plan perfectly," he said. "We didn't give up anything easy to them and took advantage of our opportunities."
Mike Ridley, Alfie Turcotte and Dale Hunter scored goals to give Washington a 3-0 lead. Mikhail Tatarinov had two assists and has eight assists in the past six games.
Capitals goaltender Mike Liut, returning to action after missing three games with a pulled groin muscle, shut out the Flyers until there were 8 minutes, 25 seconds left in the game.
Liut had 12 saves.
Center Ron Sutter scored the only Philadelphia goal, on a two-on-one break.
Flyers right wing Rick Tocchet said: "We were just not ready to play. We had a couple of chances early, but we couldn't put it away."