Flyers, Capitals begin a possible heated home-and-home set

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( - Things got a bit out of hand the last time the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals got together.

That could make for a chippy home-and-home series between the clubs that begins on Sunday afternoon in Washington.

In the first of five meetings this season, the Capitals extended some early- campaign woes for the Flyers by dealing them a 7-0 setback despite being without star winger Alex Ovechkin due to injury.

Joel Ward had his first career hat trick, Nicklas Backstrom notched a pair of goals and an assist, and netminder Braden Holtby recorded a 30-save shutout.

Holtby finished out the game despite getting into a unwilling fight with Flyers netminder Ray Emery seven seconds after Ward scored to make it 7-0. Emery skated the length of the ice during a line brawl to force Holtby into a bout, picking up 27 minutes worth of penalties.

"He didn't want a fight, but I said basically 'protect yourself,'" Emery, who relieved Steve Mason during the game, stated afterwards. "He didn't really have much of a choice."

Emery did not receive any additional punishment, though his actions did spark some debate around the league about goaltender fighting.

Philadelphia has still won five of its last seven versus the Capitals and three of the past four played in Washington. The Flyers also are 11-6-3 since that lopsided defeat and are coming off Thursday's 2-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux had the goals, with Jakub Voracek assisting on both tallies, and Mason made 20 saves.

The Flyers picked up their sixth straight win at home and were coming off a 2-3-1 road trip that concluded with a 7-2 loss in Chicago on Wednesday.

"It was a character game coming off a long trip, getting in late (Wednesday) night," said Mason. "All the guys played hard tonight. It says a lot. We're happy with the victory."

Philadelphia is just 6-8-3 on the road this season and hosts Washington on Tuesday.

The Capitals are 5-1-1 in their past seven games overall and dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Florida Panthers on Friday. Philipp Grubauer took a tough-luck loss with 39 saves as he yielded the winning tally in the 10th round of the tiebreaker.

Backstrom and Ward had the goals, with Ward's game-tying tally coming with 30 seconds left in the second period. His attempt on net looked to have been cleared out of harms way in the crease and play continued, but a replay occurred after the next stoppage and Ward was credited with a goal.

"I tried to plant myself to get ready for a shot and I saw it kind of leak through the goalie," Ward said. "There was no whistle called so I tried to follow it up and whack at it."

Washington, though, had a two-game winning streak snapped.