Flyers are finally home; Alex Ovechkin, Capitals will provide tough test

Washington’s Alex Ovechkin (left) and the Flyers’ Jake Voracek battle for the puck in a game last season.

The Flyers, one of two NHL teams not to play a home game, will finally open the Wells Fargo Center portion of their schedule when the face Alex Ovechkin and Washington on Saturday night.

Minnesota is the only other team that hasn’t had its home opener.

“It’s exciting to get an opportunity to play at home,” said coach Dave Hakstol after Friday’s practice in Voorhees.

The Flyers played better than their 2-2 season-opening road trip might suggest, holding a territorial advantage in those games and showing more speed than last year.

“So far, so good. Obviously, we would have liked to have had an extra two points on our trip,” said right winger Wayne Simmonds, whose team blew a late lead and dropped a 6-5 decision in Nashville on Tuesday. “But we have to move on and focus on Washington and make sure we play the same way we played on that road trip.”

The Flyers played in opposing teams’ home openers in three of their first four games.

“It felt good to start the year with a long road trip,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “It’s not the worst thing in the world. I think it’s probably tougher to go out there later in the season, but it’s good to be home, obviously.”

Added Gostisbehere: “I don’t think we’ve played a sloppy game. We’ve played pretty well overall, and we’re just going to keep on going.”

The Capitals are 2-1-1 heading into Friday’s matchup at surprising New Jersey (3-0).

The key to beating Ovechkin — who had a league-high eight goals entering Friday — and the Capitals?

“Don’t turn pucks over,” Simmonds said. “That’s when they hurt you. They have a lot of offensive firepower on that team.”

The Flyers will have four rookies in the lineup: Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim, Nolan Patrick, and Taylor Leier. No word yet on which goalie will start, but Michal Neuvirth (2.05 GAA, .926 save percentage) was much sharper than Brian Elliott (3.67, .876) on the road trip.

The Flyers and Caps have each had strong power plays thus far, but both have struggled on the penalty kill. Entering Friday, the Caps were 20th in the 31-team league as they had killed 80 percent of their penalties. The Flyers were 29th, killing just 70.6 percent.

In home openers, the Flyers have an all-time 27-16-6 record. They have lost four of their last five home openers, including a 3-2 defeat to Anaheim last season.

The last time the Flyers played their home opener against Washington was in the 2009-10 season. The Flyers won that game in overtime, 6-5, during a season in which they reached the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Flyers will have a morning skate Saturday in Voorhees at 10:30. Hakstol said most of the morning skates will be in Voorhees this season.

Breakaways. The Flyers have about 300 tickets left for Saturday’s game. Lower-level and club-box seats were released Friday after being held for the NHL and the Capitals…..Oddly, Saturday’s matchup is the only time the Flyers will face a Metropolitan opponent in the first 21 games.