The script seemed set for a stirring, emotional victory to celebrate the life and impact of Ed Snider, especially after Michael Raffl gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead just 57 seconds in. The Wells Fargo Center was loud, joyous, and anticipating a performance that would cut Washington's series lead to 2-1.
The Capitals' power play had other ideas. And by game's end, that same loud and joyous crowd had turned angry, belligerent and flat out disgraceful.
Washington scored five goals with the man advantage and blew out the Flyers by a score of 6-1, taking a 3-0 series lead. The outcome was in doubt until a disastrous third period for Philadelphia, starting with an Evgeny Kuznetzov goal caused by a fluke bounce off the end boards on a Justin Williams dump-in. The Flyers then spent the bulk of the game's final ten minutes killing off an endless parade of Capitals' power plays, due to a total loss of composure. The fans followed suit, as a number of them threw light-up bracelets (part of a pre-game promotion) onto the ice after hearing the penalty announcements.
The game actually started beautifully for the Flyers, with no sign of the ugliness that was to come. After a stirring tribute to chairman Ed Snider, the Flyers honored him in the best way possible -- by taking a quick lead in a must-win game. Michael Raffl pounced on a rebound caused by a Brandon Manning shot and beat Capitals goalie Braden Holtby for the Flyers' second goal of the series, sending the sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center into an absolute frenzy. Unfortunately, Philadelphia's leaky penalty kill ensured that the crowd's joy and the Flyers' lead would be short-lived. Just 15 seconds into Washington's first power play of the tonight, Marcus Johansson tipped a John Carlson slapshot past Steve Mason to tie the score at 1-1.
The Flyers faced potential disaster when Michael Raffl was called for an interference penalty with 8:43 left in the first, as it forced Philadelphia's beleaguered penalty killers back on the ice. But after two minutes of chaos and Nick Schultz blocked shots on Ovechkin, the score still was tied. Then, it was the Flyers' turn to jump on the man advantage, first due to a Jason Chimera roughing penalty and then a late Mike Richards goalie interference.
Unfortunately for Philadelphia, their power play was anything but powerful. Barely able to even get set up in the offensive zone due to Washington's relentless puck pressure, the Flyers went 0-for-4 with the man advantage through the game's first forty minutes, wasting valuable opportunities to put heavy pressure on Holtby. Instead, it was Alexander Ovechkin who would break the tie, hiding behind an official right at the blue line before taking a Nicklas Backstrom pass and blasting a low, accurate shot past Mason.
Despite a strong push in the back half of the period that saw Philadelphia take 22 out of the final 23 shot attempts of the middle stanza, they could not best Holtby. Radko Gudas came closest, wristing a shot from the point through traffic and off the post. But the post held steady, and the Flyers would have just twenty minutes to avoid a massive three-games-to-none hole in the series.
Instead, the third period was nothing short of a disaster, in more ways than one. Kuznetsov kicked things off, pouncing on a loose puck in front after Mason misplayed a weird bounce off the boards at the tail end of a power play. The Flyers tried to push back, but it was again the penalty kill that failed them, as John Carlson scored his third goal of the series with 12:23 left to essentially put the game out of reach.
But the true ugliness didn't begin until Pierre-Edouard Bellemare shoved Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov head-first into the boards on a forecheck. That rightfully resulted in a major penalty and a game misconduct for Bellemare, which sent a already-angry Flyers crowd into hysterics. Many members of the crowd began to launch their light-up bracelets, which were part of a promotion intended to create a unique light show arena experience, onto the ice surface. Pleas from Flyers announcer Lou Nolan would not even stop the fans, and after Ovechkin scored to increase the Caps' lead to 5-1, the officials were forced to call a delay-of-game penalty on the fans when more bracelets hit the ice.
Washington would score once more courtesy of Jay Beagle to create the final score, leaving the Flyers in a 3-0 series hole. They'll have one more chance to put a notch in the win column on Wednesday night, or else their season will come to an abrupt end.
Comment of the Night:
Am I a bad fan for regretting that I didn’t stop watching after the tribute at the beginning?