PHILADELPHIA – The Washington Capitals showed they can do just fine without Alex Ovechkin.
With their captain and leading scorer at home nursing an injury, the Capitals put together their best offensive effort of the season in a 7-0 rout of the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night.
Joel Ward scored three goals for his first NHL hat trick in the fight-filled outburst.
Ward’s linemate, Jason Chimera, added a goal and three assists, and Nicklas Backstrom and Mikhail Grabovski each had three points as the Capitals (6-7) won for the first time this season when Ovechkin didn’t score a goal.
Ovechkin didn’t make the trip to Philadelphia because of an upper-body injury.
“When (Chimera) and I talked in the warmup, I said, ‘Gee, I feel pretty good today,'” Ward said. “He kind of looked at me and said the same thing.
“We’ve just been rolling. (Chimera) has been flying and getting some big goals for us.”
Washington had been 0-4 when Ovechkin, who entered Friday second in the league with 10 goals, didn’t score.
“We worked as a team,” Backstrom said. “We scored on our chances. That’s what you have to do, especially when you have a good goal-scorer out of the lineup.
“Lots of guys stepped up, and that’s exactly what we needed.”
Braden Holtby coasted to a shutout, making 30 saves.
Ward’s third-period goal that made it 7-0 sparked a brawl. Just 9 seconds later, Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds fought Washington’s Tom Wilson. Flyers goalie Ray Emery then took on Holtby in another bout.
“As a group, I think it’s a frustrating night,” Emery said. “Fans are frustrated, and we don’t accept that. I think frustration sometimes shows that way.”
Emery received the highest total of 29 penalty minutes. He was charged with leaving the goal crease, instigating a fight, and fighting. He was also ejected from the game.
During the fight, he knocked Holtby off his feet and landed several hits before an official broke it up.
“He didn’t want to fight, but I basically said, ‘Protect yourself,'” Emery said.
In the melee, a total of 114 penalty minutes were handed out. Overall, Philadelphia racked up 99 penalty minutes, and Washington received 65.
“They play that type of game,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “They like five, seven power plays a night, both sides. We don’t. We want to roll four lines. We want to get everybody involved.”
Holtby was perfect in handing the Flyers their first shutout loss of the season. Philadelphia (3-9) entered tied for last in the league with just 20 goals.
“It’s embarrassing to be playing in front of our fans and losing 7-0,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “It’s not acceptable and we need to figure it out.”
The Capitals didn’t register their first shot until 4:56 remained in the first period. A little over two minutes later, Backstrom gave them the lead.
Nate Schmidt saved a Flyers clearing attempt and shuffled the puck to Martin Erat, who quickly passed it to Backstrom at the top of the right circle for a wrist shot over Steve Mason’s glove.
Ward made it a two-goal advantage 1:24 into the second period on an assist from Chimera.
“Their line has been playing very well,” Oates said. “A lot of good things are happening because they’re playing very well, playing together. Then you’re in the right spot, good things happen, you get chances and sometimes the puck goes in for you.”
Less than a minute later, Chimera beat Mason on a breakaway. That prompted Flyers coach Craig Berube to pull Mason and replace him with Emery.
That made little difference as Emery allowed another goal to Backstrom just 65 seconds after the goalie entered the game.
After Ward made it 5-0 at 16:25 of the second period, new Flyers forward Steve Downie—perhaps trying to spark his team in his debut—fought Aaron Volpatti.
While it earned applause from the crowd, Downie was handed an instigation penalty and a 10-minute misconduct. The Capitals took advantage, making it 6-0 on Troy Brouwer’s power-play goal. It ended a streak of 15 straight penalties killed by the Flyers.
Washington, however, extended its penalty-killing streak to 30. Philadelphia was 0 for 5 with the man advantage.
Backstrom has 35 points, including 11 goals, in 22 career games against Philadelphia.
NOTES: Downie began his second stint with the Flyers, who acquired him Thursday from Colorado for forward Maxime Talbot. Downie sustained a head injury during his fight and was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania after the game, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. … Giroux hasn’t scored a goal through 12 games. … Philadelphia will play at New Jersey on Saturday. … Washington returns home after a season-high, five-game road trip to face Florida on Saturday.