PHILADELPHIA -- Washington Capitals coach Terry Murray has never been the kind of guy to tiptoe around his feelings.
After what he saw at the Spectrum last night -- his team was utterly squashed by Philadelphia, 6-1 -- there was no wasting time expressing his feelings after the game.
"That was certainly our poorest performance in a long time," Murray said. "We got behind early and they never let us up."
Rampant giveaways. More breakaways and two-on-one opportunities surrendered than could be counted. Bad forechecking. Poor backchecking. You name it.
"I thought we played too far away on defense and we gave them too much room to work with the puck," Murray said. "We didn't read anything well. They got two quick goals in the first five minutes and we couldn't get anything by [Flyers goalie Ron] Hextall."
The most intriguing statistic is that the Caps (22-26-2) outshot their hosts, 39-26, but were awfully lucky to get the one goal they did.
Left wing Nick Kypreos guided a misfired Alan May shot into an empty net midway through the second period. Initially, Hextall gave up the puck to May in an attempt to clear it and got trapped behind the net.
"It really doesn't matter how many shots they get when the defensemen are clearing the puck immediately," said Hextall, who had 38 saves. "They can shoot all night as long as they're not getting rebounds in front. The 'D' made my job a lot easier."
Almost nonexistent during the last five matchups in this series (the Caps held a 4-0-1 advantage over two seasons coming into the game), the Flyers' scrappy defensive work in front of the net sparked a barrage of fights once the game got out of hand late in the second period.
Al Iafrate, Alan May, Dale Hunter and Kypreos were involved for the Caps. Hextall, Gord Murphy, Craig Berube, Ron Sutter, Scott Mellanby and Rick Tocchet did the shoving for the Flyers.
When he wasn't wrestling with Iafrate, Tocchet managed a hat trick on Caps goalie Mike Liut, who was left virtually handcuffed in each instance.
Tocchet said the team discussed its recent poor showings against the Caps and its 0-2-1 record this season before the game.
"These guys are in our division and we hadn't been playing them too well," he said. "We had to win this game to keep pace with the Rangers and to keep the Caps down."