Flyers fight off playoff elimination, defeat Caps 2-1 in game 4

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Michal Neuvirth stopped 31 shots in his first start of the playoff series, helping the Philadelphia Flyers stave off a sweep with a 2-1 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.
 
   The Capitals still lead the series 3-1 headed into Game 5 Friday night in Washington.
 
   Shayne Gostisbehere and Andrew MacDonald each scored for the Flyers.
 
   Neuvirth was sensational in the third after T.J. Oshie scored early in the period to make it 2-1.
 
   The Capitals still have never swept a best-of-seven playoff series.
 
   The game was marred by a scary hit that saw Flyers center Scott Laughton leave on a stretcher.
 
   Flyers rookie coach Dave Hakstol shuffled the lineup for the win-or-else game. He benched No. 1 goalie Steve Mason for Neuvirth and moved Brayden Schenn to the top line and demoted Jake Voracek.
 
   Mason allowed five power-play goals, including four in a third period, in a 6-1 Game 3 loss. Mason's Game 2 gaffe that allowed Jason Chimera's 101-foot tip-in goal has been replayed on an endless blooper reel in Philly.
 
   Exit Mason, enter Neuvirth.
 
   Neuvirth, who played parts of six seasons in Washington, went 18-8-4 with a 2.27 goal against and a .924 save percentage in 32 games.
 
   "He always was pretty clutch, so I'm sure he's going to be fine tonight," Voracek said.
 
   He was clutch, indeed.
 
   Oshie backhanded a rebound off Matt Niskanen's shot from the point just 2:38 into the third.
 
   That was it for the Capitals. 
 
   "Every series is about getting the four. We need to get the four," coach Barry Trotz said. "The sooner you get the four, it gives you a couple opportunities to rest guys, heal guys (and get) a little mental break from the pressures of playoff hockey and a little more time to prepare."  
 
   The Flyers seemed like a new team in the first period. Neuvirth stopped all 10 shots and the punchless top line finally broke through to give the Flyers a lead.
 
   Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds -- 1-2 in team points this season -- were each held without a goal or assist through the first three games. They both assisted on Gostisbehere's blast from the point for the 1-0 lead.
 
   Gostisbehere's goal came on the power play, snapping the Flyers' 0 for 13 postseason skid. 
 
   Laughton was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a hit into the boards late in the first. Washington defenseman John Carlson tangled with Laughton behind the Capitals' net late. Laughton stumbled and his head and neck slammed into the back boards. He went down in a heap face-first and was immobile for several minutes. There was no penalty on the play.
 
   Laughton talked to medical personnel as they strapped him on the board. The Flyers said he was taken to Jefferson Hospital for precautionary reasons.
 
   Laughton had seven goals and 14 assists in 71 regular-season games this season.
 
   MacDonald's goal on a one-timer in the second period gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead. MacDonald signed a $30 million, six-year contract with the Flyers in 2014, then slumped so badly that the 29-year-old defenseman was demoted this season to the AHL. He played just 28 games for the Flyers and 43 with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
 
   Braden Holtby, who had had stopped 91 of 93 shots, started a day after he left practice with an apparent left leg injury after a collision with a teammate. 
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