The playoff-hopeful Washington Capitals will try to close a game road trip on a positive note, as they visit the Philadelphia Flyers for tonight's clash at Wells Fargo Center.
The Capitals are 2-2 on their swing, but have certainly aided their postseason chances with wins in five of their last seven games overall. Washington enters tonight holding onto the East's eighth and final playoff side, matching Buffalo's 80 points but with a game in hand.
Washington's latest victory was a big one, as the Caps ended a two-game slide with Monday's 5-3 triumph in Detroit. Alex Ovechkin netted two of Washington's three first-period goals and the Capitals held leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before holding on for the victory at Joe Louis Arena.
Ovechkin has notched five goals over his last four games, giving him 32 markers on the season. The Russian superstar's lowest goal total came last season when he also had 32 tallies.
Mike Knuble and Jason Chimera registered a goal and an assist for the Capitals.
Braden Holtby made 30 saves in his second start of the season with Washington. Holtby was recalled from Hershey of the AHL to fill in for the injured Tomas Vokoun, but Michal Neuvirth is expected to get the call tonight. Vokoun, who has started 45 games this year to 26 for Neuvirth, is out with a groin injury.
Washington will head to D.C. for a three-game homestand following tonight's contest. That's good news for the Capitals, who are just 14-20-3 on the road this year compared to a 23-10-3 mark at home.
The Flyers, meanwhile, will try to rebound from just their second regulation loss of the month when they take the ice this evening. Philadelphia, which is seeded fifth in the East, outshot the visiting Florida Panthers by a 36-13 margin on Tuesday, but still wound up taking a 2-1 loss. Florida's win pushed its lead over Washington for first place in the Southeast Division to five points.
Scott Clemmensen turned away 35 shots to lead the Panthers to the win in Philadelphia. The Flyers went 0-for-4 on the power-play in the game and all four of their opportunities, including a 42-second two-minute advantage, came in the first period. Philadelphia is just 2-for-19 on the power play over the last seven games.
"The message, especially with the power play, is to bring the puck to the net," Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said. "We have big guys in there and units that have had a lot of success bringing the puck to the net. I do think you're right on the power play maybe we are looking to make too many plays or too many passes."
Eric Wellwood scored the lone goal for the Flyers, who trail Pittsburgh by four points for the fourth seed in the East and lead sixth-seeded New Jersey by three points.
Ilya Bryzgalov gave up both goals on just 13 shots for Philadelphia, which had won five straight at home and is now 19-11-5 as the host this season. The Flyers are playing the third test of a five-game homestand tonight.
The Flyers have won the last two meetings with the Capitals and both of those victories came in D.C. Philadelphia has taken four of the last six encounters in this series overall, but the Caps have won three of their last four tilts at the Wells Fargo Center.
Tonight's test marks the final regular-season meeting between the Caps and Flyers.