Capitals rout Flyers to take commanding series lead

Alexander Ovechkin scored two goals and added an assist as the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers to push them to the brink of elimination.

PHILADELPHIA — Wayne Simmonds raised his hand toward the crowd and pleaded with fans to stop hurling colorful bracelets on the ice.

The Flyers PA announcer urged fans to “show some class” during the first wave of band tossing.

The Philly fans refused to listen and pelted the ice with the giveaways at seemingly the same rapid rate Washington was scoring goals.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice, Braden Holtby had 31 saves and the Washington Capitals moved one game closer to a sweep in their first-round playoff series with a 6-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.

The Capitals lead a series 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us to come back home with the win and see what’s going to happen and who’s going to be next,” Ovechkin said.

Ovechkin snapped a tie game with his 38th career post-season goal and Holtby made the lead stand with his third straight sensational effort in the series. The Capitals scored five power-play goals, including four in a third period marked by the behaviour of Philadelphia’s disgruntled home fans.

The Flyers lost in their first home game since founder Ed Snider’s death last week. Michael Raffl scored 57 seconds into the game and sent a crowd already rocking after an emotional pregame tribute into a frenzy.

But passion alone wasn’t enough to fuel the Flyers.

Philadelphia fans showed the wrong kind of spirit late in the game when they tossed wristbands used as part of a pregame lights show on the ice as Washington turned this one into a rout.

Flyers public address announcer Lou Nolan scolded fans and warned the Flyers would be hit with a penalty if they kept littering the ice with bracelets and other garbage.

Sure enough, the wristbands kept coming, and the Flyers were whistled for a bench minor for delay of game. Capitals defenceman Dmitry Orlov was even smacked by a flying bracelet sitting in the penalty box. Nolan said, “way to go,” and the fans cheered as if they were proud of the penalty.

“I know they’re upset in that situation but that can’t happen,” Simmonds said.

The Flyers dedicated their post-season run to Snider, who died last week after a two-year battle with cancer.

The Flyers hanged a banner outside the arena with Snider’s picture and the caption “A Flyer Forever.” His silhouette was inside the Flyers logo for the customary playoff T-shirt giveaway, and some fans left flowers and cards at a makeshift memorial next to the team flag.

“EMS” — initials for Edward Malcolm Snider — were painted on the ice behind each net.

Lauren Hart, the team’s longtime anthem singer, sang “God Bless America” with Snider’s name and “67” on the back of her team jersey. The Flyers’ first season was 1967-68. Hart’s eyes watered and her hands were shaking throughout her performance.

Raffl knocked in the first shot of the game off Brandon Manning‘s attempt from the point and 19,678 fans went wild.

The Flyers had motivation, home ice and a bit of history on their side — Washington had been 0-7 in Game 3s of best-of-seven playoff series when leading 2-0.

But this season’s Capitals had the best record in the NHL and thoroughly outplayed the Flyers in the first two games. Once the crowd and the Flyers settled down, the Capitals got going and looked every bit as dominant as they had all season.

“They had a special moment, a tough moment, for them, and we tried to handle it,” Ovechkin said. “I think we managed it.”

Marcus Johansson tied the game at 1-all in the first, beating a beleaguered Steve Mason on the power play for his first career post-season goal. Mason was back in net following his Game 2 gaffe that has been replayed on an endless loop in Philly — Jason Chimera’s 101-foot tip-in on a play that would have been icing had it not gone on net.

Mason had a pair of easy goals scored against him that hushed the Philly crowd.

Ovechkin bounced over the boards and snapped a long-distance wrist shot from above the circle past Mason.

Mason was befuddled again in the third. Justin Williams‘ shot off the boards settled near Mason, who pawed at the puck and it trickled away. Evgeny Kuznetsov pounced and pounded in the goal for a 3-1 lead on just 18 shots. Mason had 21 saves.

John Carlson, Ovechkin and Jay Beagle made it 6-1 with power-play goals in the third. The Capitals have eight in the series.

The Flyers are 0 for 13 in the series.

Claude Giroux, who led the Flyers with 67 points, has none this series and looked lost against Washington.

“There’s a reason why they dominated all year,” Giroux said.

Notes: Capitals D Brooks Orpik left in the second period with an undisclosed injury. Ryan White hit Orpik into the boards and he went down. Orpik needed help walking to the locker room. … Washington had never led a series 3-0 in 35 best-of-seven playoff series. … Ovechkin became Washington’s career leader in playoff points with 75. (39 goals, 35 assists). … F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was ejected for a hit on Orlov and could face league discipline.

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