PHILADELPHIA -- The start had been just what the Philadelphia Flyers needed.
Wells Fargo Center was rocking after the Flyers' emotional pregame ceremony to honor late founder and chairman Ed Snider. Lauren Hart had done her part too, with an assist from the past from Kate Smith, to stir the electricity in the building further with the singing of "God Bless America."
Then, Michael Raffl scored on a rebound 57 seconds in, and the Flyers finally had their first lead in this Eastern Conference First Round series.
That would be the high point Monday for the home team though. By the time it was over, the Flyers had imploded, allowing five power-play goals, including four in the third period, in a 6-1 Game 3 loss to the Washington Capitals.
"An emotional roller coaster, for sure," Flyers defenseman Mark Streit said. "To have such a touching ceremony, I thought we came out flying and scored a goal right away, and then somehow we lose the momentum. That can't happen, especially against a team like that."
Video: WSH@PHI, Gm3: Raffl puts a rebound past Holtby
If the Flyers didn't know it before, they know by now that the Capitals didn't run away with the Presidents' Trophy as the NHL's top regular-season team by accident. Washington hasn't played its best game but leads 3-0 with a chance to complete the first sweep of a best-of-7 series in its history in Game 4 here Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-PH, CSN-DC).
Alex Ovechkin, who had two goals and an assist Monday, is one of the Capitals' many offensive weapons, and they have a solid defense backed by Braden Holtby, who has allowed two goals on 93 shots so far in the series. If the Flyers can't figure out a way to solve him and stop the Capitals power play, which is 8-for-17 in the series, their season will end Wednesday.
"We're not going away," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol promised. "We're going to pick up and go back to work tomorrow like we always do, like we have all year long, and get ready to go out and win a game two nights from now."
Little has gone right for the Flyers in being outscored 12-2 through the first three games. Even after they grabbed the lead in the opening minute Monday, they shot themselves in the foot with Wayne Simmonds being called for holding at 4:28.
Video: Claude Giroux talks about a tough loss in Game 3
The Capitals needed 15 seconds to cash in on the resulting power play with John Carlson's point shot deflecting in off Marcus Johansson.
The Flyers power play had a chance to answer later in the period but did not put a shot on Holtby. It went 0-for-5 for the night and is 0-for-13 in the series.
"We came out pretty strong and got that first goal. We wanted that first goal tonight," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "Our power play has to find a way to score. We got some chances, but they're not going in, so we have to find a way to put one in."
Giroux and Simmonds, who were first and second on the Flyers in points during the regular season, have zeroes across the board so far. Linemate Jakub Voracek has one of their two goals in the series. Raffl has the other.
Flyers goaltender Steve Mason played well in Game 1 but has been sloppy the past two games.
Video: Steve Mason talks about a tough loss in Game 3
Ovechkin's goal, which broke a 1-1 tie 8:50 into the second period, came on a wrist shot from above the right circle that Mason appeared to have trouble picking up and allowed to sail in past his catching glove.
"I've got to make the save there," Mason said.
Next came another strange bounce, which led to Evgeny Kuznetsov's power-play goal that made it 3-1 1:58 into the third period. This one wasn't as much on the goaltender as Jason Chimera's 101-foot tip-in in Game 2; the puck caromed off the glass in the right corner and bounced off Mason's glove in front before Kuznetsov put in the rebound.
Things unraveled quickly after that with Carlson, Ovechkin and Jay Beagle scoring power-play goals while the Flyers continued a parade to the penalty box that included Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's five-minute major and game misconduct for checking defenseman Dmitry Orlov from behind.
"The entire third period was just not good all around," Mason said.
The Flyers were in this position against the Boston Bruins in the second round in 2010, when they became the third team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win. It was done again by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round against the San Jose Sharks in 2014, so the deficit is not insurmountable.
For these Flyers against these Capitals, however, repeating history might be too much to ask.
"In a series, you need four wins, and as long as you don't have four wins, you don't win the series," Streit said. "We've got to realize that. We can be bitter and disappointed as much as you want, but you've got to turn the page here. Tomorrow, we've got to wake up and concentrate on Wednesday. We know what to do. We know how to play them. We looked at it many times. It's just we've got to do it in a smart way."