Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/2/13
The Washington Capitals didn’t want to dwell on the absence of leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin. They viewed the star winger’s injured right shoulder as a challenge, an opportunity for others to take up the mantle of manufacturing offense. In their first game without Ovechkin since February 2012, the Capitals seized the moment, putting on an impressive scoring display with goals from four players to rout the Philadelphia Flyers, 7-0. Joel Ward recorded his first career hat trick, Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and Jason Chimera and Troy Brouwer both added individual tallies in what was a show of strength against the worst team in the Metropolitan Division. “It was good to win. To come in here, it’s a pretty hostile environment and we’re without Ovi,” Ward said. “Obviously a lot of people have sort of counted us out a little bit. It was a big game for us in the locker room.” But as Washington continued to pummel the three-win Flyers, the contest devolved into the type of fight night that only seems to happen on Broad Street. Off the faceoff immediately following Ward’s third goal, a melee broke out between veteran Philadelphia winger Wayne Simmonds and rough-and-tumble rookie Tom Wilson. As that bout unfolded Flyers goaltender Ray Emery skated from his crease and challenged Braden Holtby, who tried to avoid the altercation but was forced to fight when his counterpart lunged at him. “He didn’t want to fight and I basically said, ‘Protect yourself,’ ” Emery said. “He didn’t really have much of a choice.” Where the situation became concerning was when Holtby, who declined to comment on the altercation, couldn’t get his feet under him with Emery wailing away. Even as the Capitals’ starter was trying to avoid having his head knocked into the boards, referee Francois St. Laurent stood by and didn’t attempt to break up the fracas. Several other players paired off and ultimately five game misconducts were doled out on a night in which the teams combined for an unofficial 31 penalties and 164 penalty minutes.
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