Feb. 27 vs. Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center
Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Comcast Sports Network
Radio: 106.7 The Fan and Caps Radio Network
Washington Capitals (7-10-1)
Philadelphia Flyers (9-11-1)
The Caps close out the February portion of their 2012-13 schedule and play the first of two straight on the road when they visit Philadelphia on Wednesday. This is the first of two road games for Washington against the Flyers this season. The Caps won a 3-2 decision over Philly on Feb. 1 at Verizon Center in the first meeting between the two teams this season.
Washington started the month of February by playing the second of back-to-back games against the Flyers at home and it will conclude the month by playing the second of back-to-back games against the Flyers in Philadelphia. The Capitals are 8-1-3 in their last dozen visits to the City of Brotherly Love.
Washington comes to town on the heels of an important 3-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at Verizon Center on Tuesday night. That win lifted the Capitals to within four points of Carolina and Tampa Bay, the co-leaders of the NHL’s Southeast Division.
Braden Holtby made 33 stops in goal for Washington to earn his sixth win and second shutout of the season. He has made seven straight starts for the Caps and is expected to make his eighth straight start on Tuesday in Philadelphia.
Holtby is 5-2 with a 2.01 GAA and a .937 save pct. in those last seven starts. During his NHL career against the Flyers, Holtby is 2-0-1 with a 1.62 GAA and a .940 save pct.
The Capitals have scored the game’s first goal in each of the last eight games, going 5-3 in those contests. They are 5-6 on the season when scoring the game’s first goal.
After starting the season with a dismal 1-5-1 record in January, the Caps are now a more respectable 6-5 in February and are seeking to maintain that winning mark with a win on Wednesday. The Capitals are seeking their first sweep of back-to-back games since March 10-11, 2012 when they won on the road in Boston and at home against Toronto, respectively.
The Caps’ power-play unit ranks second in the NHL with a 28.6% success rate. Washington is 13-for-30 (43.1%) with the extra man in its last 10 games.
The Capitals’ penalty-killing outfit has succeeded on 23 of its last 25 missions for a 92% kill rate during that stretch. For the season, Washington has climbed to 23rd in the NHL in penalty killing with a kill rate of 77.6%.
Wednesday’s game is the fourth of five straight at home for the Flyers, a homestand that matches Philadelphia’s longest of the season. Ottawa visits Philly at noon on Sunday to conclude the homestand.
Philadelphia has already played 21 games this season, most in the league. Early in the season, the Flyers were getting decent goaltending but they were scoring sporadically. Lately, the situation has been reversed.
The Flyers scored two or fewer goals in nine of their first 11 games this season, going 4-6-1 and wasting some strong goaltending.by Ilya Bryzgalov, who allowed two or fewer goals in six of his first 10 starts.
Since then, Bryzgalov has allowed three or more goals in seven of his nine appearances, but Philly has gone 5-5 in its last 10. The Flyers have scored 35 of their 60 goals in those last 10 games and they rank 10th in the NHL with an average of 2.87 goals per game. Bryzgalov has started 19 of Philly’s 21 games this season.
Philadelphia is 3-2 in its last five games, scoring 22 goals and allowing 17 during that stretch.
Among the hottest of the Philadelphia sticks is that of Jakub Voracek. With 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists), Voracek is the Flyers’ leading scorer. Currently in the midst of a six-game scoring streak (five goals, nine assists), Voracek has had four multiple-point games during that run.
Voracek is nearly halfway to his point total from last season (49) and his single-season career best of 50, established in his sophomore NHL season of 2009-10 when he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He leads the Flyers with four power-play goals and is tied for second on the club with nine power-play points.
The Flyers’ power play ranks ninth in the NHL with a 20.4% conversion rate. Philly has scored at least one power-play goal in four of its last five games, going 7-for-24 (29.2%) with the extra man during that span.
Philadelphia has benefited from tremendous penalty killing in its last 10 games. The Flyers have been perfect on the kill in eight of those 10 games, and they’re 36-for-39 (92.3%) during that stretch. For the season, the Flyers’ penalty-killing corps rankes 13th in the circuit with a kill rate of 83%.
Philly has failed to win more than two games in succession at any point this season. The Flyers are 1-2 on their current homestand, and they’re coming off a 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on Monday night. Although the Flyers have trailed by two goals in each of their last four games, they’ve won two of those contests.
On Tuesday, Philadelphia made a deal to reacquire veteran left wing Simon Gagne. Gagne was Philly’s first-round (22nd overall) choice in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He scored 20 goals for the Flyers as a 19-year-old rookie in 1999-00 and spent the first 10 seasons of his NHL career in Philly.
After spending the last two seasons in Tampa Bay and Los Angeles – where he was a member of the 2012 Stanley Cup champion Kings team – Gagne was off to a slow start with L.A. in 2012-13. He had five assists in 11 games with the Kings and was obtained for a conditional fourth-round pick.
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