After a frustrating loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at home, the Philadelphia Flyers must regroup and prepare for a Metropolitan Division battle, with potential playoff impact, on Saturday night (7:00 PM). The Flyers head to Washington, D.C. to battle the Capitals (36-13-5) who are currently sitting in first place atop the heavily contested Metropolitan Division. Philadelphia is 29-18-7 and currently in sixth place in the division and one spot outside of the last Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Tonight’s matchup is the third meeting between the Flyers and Capitals this season. The series is tied at one game apiece. Washington survived Philadelphia 2-1 on November 13th and the Flyers (thanks to some Kevin Hayes penalty killing brilliance) beat the Capitals 3-2 on January 8th. Both previous games were played in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center. The final two contests between these two teams will occur at Capital One Arena in DC, with the last game taking place on March 4th at 7:00 PM.
Players to Watch
For the Flyers, Kevin Hayes has three goals in his last five games. He did score a short-handed goal, which proved to be the game-winner for the Flyers, the last time these two teams met. Hayes has three points (1 goal, 2 assists) in his last five contests against the Capitals.
Matt Niskanen has five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in the previous five games with the Flyers. This will be the first game back in Washington for the defenseman since his trade from the Capitals in June of 2019. There may be some emotion as he returns to the ice where he once stood with his former teammates while their 2018 Stanley Cup championship banner was raised to the rafters.
Brian Elliott will be the starting goaltender for the Flyers tonight. He allowed four goals on 17 shots against the Devils on Thursday night and was pulled early for Alex Lyon. Elliott is 13-6-4 with a 2.89 GAA and a .900 save percentage. This will be his first start against the Capitals and their high-powered offense this season.
All eyes will be on Alex Ovechkin as he attempts to score his 699th and 700th career goals on home ice. The Great 8 has been unstoppable as of late. He has ten points (9 goals, 1 assist) in his last five games and a total of 40 goals on the season. The 34-year-old Russian has yet to record a point against the Flyers in 2019-20.
Braden Holtby is expected to guard the cage for the Capitals. Holtby was in net for the two previous games against the Flyers this season. The netminder has been struggling of late, and is 20-10-4 with a 3.08 GAA and a .897 save percentage.
Both the Flyers and Capitals have suffered embarrassing home losses to the Devils in the last month. Washington fell to New Jersey 5-1 at Capital One Arena on January 11th. They recovered by winning five of their next six games and going 6-2-0 in their last eight games since the defeat. The Flyers are looking for a similar turnaround. This will be critical considering points are at a premium this time of year, they are facing off against the top club in their division, and have some tough games ahead.
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports