WASHINGTON — The Capitals showed they could get away with a slow start and still pull out another win.
Despite a sluggish beginning that forced backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to be on top of his game, the Capitals' offense came to life in a 5-0 blowout of the Flyers on Sunday.
Washington has won a season-best nine in a row to climb atop the NHL standings. It tries to win 10 straight at Pittsburgh tonight.
The Capitals have beaten New Jersey, Ottawa (twice), Toronto, Columbus, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Philadelphia, and outscored those opponents 40-11 over this stretch. They haven't allowed an even-strength goal in 298:54, going back to the Maple Leafs game Jan. 3.
"I think guys are enjoying coming to the rink right now," said defenseman Matt Niskanen, who scored twice in 2:27 of the third period. "We're getting some offense, but we're also getting some shutouts mixed in there, too, so that's a good sign. We're playing really good hockey. Still room to grow, I think, in the long term, but it's pretty fun right now."
Washington scored four goals on seven shots in five minutes early in the third, two each by Niskanen and wing Justin Williams. Grubauer was sharp, especially early and on five successful penalty kills, and made 24 saves.
Philadelphia, which had 13 of the game's first 18 shots.
"The first two periods we played excellent road periods," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said after his team's eighth consecutive road loss. "We didn't give up much and had a little bit better of the chances. But it got away from us in five minutes at the start of the third period."
Goaltender Steve Mason, who was pulled after allowing five goals on 17 shots, called this a "tough stretch" and said the Flyers need to step back and get away from hockey for a few days during their bye week. They've lost 11 of their past 14 games.
Game highlights: Jason Pominville scored in the third, Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves and the Wild beat the host Blackhawks 3-2 to grab sole possession of the top spot in the Western Conference. Minnesota won its fourth straight and improved to 17-1-1 since Dec. 4. It beat the Blackhawks for the eighth straight time. … Taylor Hall scored 1:28 into overtime to lift the Devils to a 2-1 win over the host Canucks.