The Flyers were well-rested. Washington wasn’t.
The Flyers had more speed, more energy, and more goals Saturday night as they opened the home portion of their season with an 8-2 win over the defensive-challenged Capitals before a sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.
Scott Laughton, Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux (four points) each had two goals, and Jake Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere each had three assists for the Flyers (3-2), who played their first game since a demoralizing 6-5 loss Tuesday in Nashville. Washington (3-2-1 ) played for the third time in four nights, including back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.
Wayne Simmonds (power play) and Val Filppula also scored for the Flyers.
The only time in franchise history that the Flyers scored more goals in a home opener was in 1982-83, when they mauled Quebec, 9-5.
“We knew they were coming in on back to backs and they’d be tired a little bit,” said goalie Brian Elliott, who made his fourth start in five games and faced only 23 shots.”We just wanted to continue with our game plan and be patiently persistent _ and that’s what we did. We kept our foot on the gas pedal.”
Saturday was the 50th home opener in franchise history, and the Flyers are 28-16-6 in those games, including a 5-0-1 record against the Capitals. For what it’s worth, the Flyers have reached the Stanley Cup Finals in three of the seasons that started with a home win over Washington.
“It was extremely loud, and that’s what we expected,” said Simmonds, who also contributed an assist. “…We have no time to take our foot off the gas. We have to try and accumulate as many points early on that we can.”
Laughton’s shorthanded goal snapped a 1-1 tie late in the first period and brought the orange-clad crowd out of its seats. The rout was underway.
Laughton intercepted John Carlson’s pass and went in alone on backup goalie Philipp Grubauer, who charged out of his net and attempted to take the puck away from the 23-year-old center.
But Grubauer swiped the puck off Laughton in the left circle, and the hustling forward scooped up the carom and deposited a backhander into the empty net with 1:02 left in the first.
“I saw him trying to dive out, and I thought there was one option for him, so I tried to read it to the best of my ability,”” Laughton said. “Lucky enough, I had an empty net.”
With Carlson in the penalty box for slashing, Simmonds scored off the rush on a power play, making it 3-1 with 16:45 remaining in the second, one of three Flyers goals in the stanza.
The ever-present Voracek set up the goals _ Simmonds’ fifth of the young season and third on the power play. Before finding a wide-open Simmonds, Voracek made a nice move to elude Madison Bowey, who made his NHL debut and was playing because of a hand injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps’ top defenseman.
Giroux tipped in Couturier’s shot/pass to increase the lead to 4-1 with 9:28 left in the second. It gave Voracek nine assists in five games. After Nicklas Backstrom cut it to 4-2, Filppula, playing in his 800th career game, knocked in a two-on-one pass from Jordan Weal to put the Flyers ahead, 5-2, with 2:55 to go in the second
Couturier had a three-point night and now has 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) over his last 24 games, dating back to March 4.
Laughton, who had the first two-goal game of his career, Couturier and Giroux scored third-period goals.
Earlier the Flyers had taken a 1-0 lead as Couturier scored on his own rebound after taking a feed from Voracek with 12:42 to go in the first.
A little over two minutes later, two Flyers forwards got caught out of position and Jakub Vrana converted a two-on-one to knot the score at 1-all.
The Flyers, who started a five-game homestand, scored seven of the next eight goals and held Alex Ovechkin (six shots, minus-4) without a point.
“It’s a big home stretch here to set up the year,” Laughton said.
Breakaways. The Flyers had lost four of their previous five home openers…. In a surprise, defenseman Brandon Manning replaced rookie Travis Sanheim and was paired with Radko Gudas. Coach Dave Hakstol wanted Manning’s physicality in the lineup….The Capitals went with an all-rookie defensive pair of Bowey and Christian Djoos, and the Flyers took advantage….The Flyers outshot the Caps, 37-23.