By Jenny Masters
It was a big night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers played before live, paying customers, not the cardboard cutouts of the pandemic’s first year.
And when it was over, with the Capitals a 3-1 winner, the 3.023 expressed their displeasure.
Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov and Nick Jensen scored to lead Washington and T.J. Oshie had two assists and Ilya Samsonov stopped 36 shots for the Capitals, who have won eight of 11.
Washington was without forward Tom Wilson, who served the first game of a seven-game suspension for Friday’s hit on Boston defenseman Brandon Carlo.
Joel Farabee scored for Philly, which lost its second straight and finished 3-3 during a grueling nine-day, six-game stretch.
There were 3,023 fans in attendance, the first time the Flyers have played in front of a home crowd since last March 10. It also was Washington’s first game in front of an audience this season.
“It was great,” Washington’s John Carlson said. “It kind of felt almost weird out there. I like to hear some booing and cheering, the normal things that go on in an NHL game. It’s not a packed house like it shouldn’t be, (but) it means a lot to the players. It’s a lot more natural for us.”
Farabee got the home crowd excited with his team-leading 11th goal to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead with just under nine minutes left in the first period.
But Washington scored twice in the final 4:49 of the second to take a one-goal advantage into the third. Ovechkin tied it with his eighth of the season, finishing a cross-ice pass from Oshie by going high over Carter Hart.
Orlov put the Capitals ahead with 15.8 ticks left in the period in a similar fashion. Carlson’s pass across the ice found Orlov, whose shot went through Hart’s legs.
Jensen’s first of the season, a hard wrist shot over Hart’s right shoulder, 4:15 into the third gave the Capitals a two-goal advantage and brought on displeasure from the fans.
“No doubt we came out here with the best intentions playing in front of our fans,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “We came out with good jump, but we couldn’t finish the job.”
The fans had a lot to cheer about early, though.
Farabee opened the scoring when he took the shot himself on a 2-on-1 with James van Riemsdyk, beating Samsonov through the legs. He waved his hands toward the crowd, calling for more noise. And they obliged with loud cheers that sounded closer to a half-full building rather than one at about 15 percent capacity.
“It was awesome,” the Flyers’ Sean Couturier said. “It was pretty loud. It felt great to be back home in front of our fans.”