- Associated Press - Saturday, October 14, 2017

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Scott Laughton swiped the puck at the blueline, raced to the circle and faced Washington goalie Phillipp Grubauer sprawled on the ice trying to make the stop.

Grubauer nudged a loose puck back to Laughton, who had the speed and the patience needed to swerve around the goalie and pound in an empty-netter - short-handed, no less - for a one-goal lead.

Sure, it was the prettiest goal of the game - but seven others looked pretty good to the Flyers, too.

Laughton, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier each scored twice to lead Philadelphia to an 8-2 victory over the Capitals on Saturday night.

Laughton, who had his first career two-goal game, knew Grubauer had miscalculated his attempted save.

“I just tried to read the play and he was kind of diving out there,” Laughton said. “I knew he couldn’t go on his backhand, so I tried to put it as quick as I could. I knew there was some back pressure coming.”

Wayne Simmonds and Valtteri Filppula also scored for the Flyers in their home opener. The Flyers won a home opener for the 28th time in 50 games.

Brian Elliott rebounded from a dismal six-goal outing against Nashville to stop 21 shots and win for the third time this season.

“It was good to have a couple of days in between to put it behind us,” Giroux said.

NHL leading scorer Alex Ovechkin failed to record a goal or assist for just the second time in six games. He failed to score a goal in last year’s season series against the Flyers for the first time in 12 seasons.

Whatever the Flyers are doing to slow down one of the top players in the NHL, it’s working.

Philly’s offense dominated from start to finish in a complete game that could signal this year’s team could make a playoff push.

“We just wanted to get on them early,” Laughton said.

The Flyers scored three times in the second period and two each in the first and third, playing nothing like the team that missed the postseason.

Jakub Vrana and Nicklas Backstrom scored goals for Washington.

“We need to realize that we can’t just give away the puck all the time,” Backstrom said. “If we don’t realize that quick it’s going to be a long season. We have to manage the puck better.”

Simmonds’ fifth goal of the season came on the power play just minutes into the second period to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead. Simmonds, the NHL’s third star of the week, is four goals behind Ovechkin for the league lead.

Giroux followed midway through the second to make it 4-1. Backstrom made it 4-2 while Giroux’s goal - which put him 15th on the team’s career list - was still being announced to the crowd. No worries about the quick give back. Filppula took a feed from Jordan Weal and flipped it over Grubauer for a 5-2 lead.

Laughton, Couturier and Giroux, who also had two assists, sealed the win in the third with their second goals of the game.

Couturier’s second goal of the season came off a rebound of his own shot early in the second period. Vrana evened the score off Evgeny Kuznetsov’s sweet backhand pass with his second goal of the season.

The Capitals put No. 1 defenseman Matt Niskanen on long-term injured reserve with an upper-body injury. The team says Niskanen is week-to-week. On LTIR, he must miss 10 games and 24 days, which means Niskanen isn’t eligible to return until Nov. 7 at Buffalo.

Without Niskanen, and on the back end of back-to-backs, the Caps were a mess in the defensive zone and Grubauer couldn’t stave off the Flyers.

“I just thought I could have done better myself and lead the way a lot more,” Caps defenseman John Carlson said.

NOTES: The Flyers played the first game of a five-game homestand. … Flyers F Jakub Voracek and D Shayne Gostisbehere each had three assists. Voracek has nine assists this season. … With Niskanen out, Washington recalled 22-year-old defenseman Madison Bowey from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League. … Ovechkin needed 18 games last season to score nine goals. … Filppula played in his 800th career game.


Washington: Host Toronto on Tuesday.

Philadelphia: Host Florida on Tuesday.


More AP NHL hockey at https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

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