Flyers host Caps as homestand continues
Philadelphia Flyers (9-11-1--19pts)
1. THE RETURN OF 12
Washington Capitals (7-10-1--15pts)
TV: NBC-SN - RADIO: 97.5 The Fanatic
Simon Gagne did not skate this morning, but is expected to be in the line-up tonight after taking a red-eye from Los Angeles following his trade back to Philadelphia… Gagne had five points, all assists, in 11 games with the Kings this season to go along with a +2 rating… In 10 seasons with the Flyers, Gagne scored 259 goals and 265 assists for 524 points in 664 career regular season games… He ranks ninth on the Flyers’ all-time list in goals (259) and 10th in points (524) and games played (664).
2. RIVALRY NIGHT
This is the second of three meetings against the Caps, and first of two at the Wells Fargo Center… The Flyers dropped a 3-2 decision to Washington who scored two third-period goals to earn the win… Tonight will be the second game in back-to-back nights for the Caps, who are winners of two straight games and five of their last seven games… Washington has not lost in regulation in the second half of back-to-backs in the last six contests (4-0-2)… The Flyers play their fourth straight game on home ice, where they are 5-3-1… The Flyers are 59-30-6-2 against the Caps in Philadelphia and 100-67-19-6 in 192 games overall against Washington.
3. THIS & THAT
The Caps are operating a 45.4 percent (5-for-11) on the power play in their last three games and have killed 23 of their last 25 penalties… All seven of their victories have come when they have not allowed a power-play goal, going 7-1-0 when doing so… Mike Ribeiro ranks second in the NHL in power-play points with 13 (5g-8a) despite ranking 72nd in the league in average power-play ice time per game (3:42)… The Flyers have posted seven power-play goals in their last five games, going 7-for-24 (29.1 percent)… Zac Rinaldo is fourth in the NHL with 76 hits, while Luke Schenn resides in fifth, just two back at 74 hits… Ilya Bryzgalov leads the league in minutes played this season with 1076:09… Braden Holtby started his seventh consecutive game last night and has gone 5-2 in those seven starts with two shutouts, a 2.01 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
4. Player to watch FLYERS: Jakub Voracek - RW #93
Voracek gets the nod again for his six-game point streak… During his current stretch, he has five goals and nine assists for 14 points, averaging 2.33 points-per-game… He has five goals in his last four games and factored into both goals (1g-1a) in the Flyers loss to Toronto… Voracek currently ranks tied for sixth in the NHL in assists (16) and overall points (24)
5. Player to watch CAPITALS: Alex Ovechkin - LW #8
The Caps captain has five points in his last two games, including a hat trick in the team's 5-1 win over the Devils last Saturday… After a slow January, Ovechkin is averaging over a point-per-game in February, posting six goals and 12 points in 11 games so far… He has scored the most goals (347) and points (694) in the NHL since the 2005-06 season… Against the Flyers, he has 23 goals and 38 points in 27 career games, but was held scoreless in the last meeting with Philadelphia on Feb. 1.
"When they told me the place I was going, the place I was there for more than 10 years and where everything started, so it’s going back to the place where I’m really familiar and really excited to go back to Philly."
- Simon Gagne
The Philadelphia Flyers have trailed by at least two goals in five of their past six games.
They are hoping the return of a familiar face can provide a spark.
A day after being re-acquired, Simon Gagne will try to begin revitalizing his career and the Flyers' season Wednesday night when they face the Washington Capitals.
Philadelphia (9-11-1) has split its last six games despite its spate of recent slow starts. While they rallied for victories against Pittsburgh and Winnipeg, the Flyers were unable to erase a two-goal, second-period deficit Monday, falling 4-2 to Toronto.
"It's been talked about too many times," left wing Scott Hartnell said. "It's got to change fast. We can't get down 2-0 every game and expect to win."
Perhaps having Gagne back can provide a lift for a club that is below the postseason cutoff in the Eastern Conference.
The left wing was acquired in a trade from Los Angeles on Tuesday in exchange for a conditional draft pick. Gagne spent his first 10 seasons with the Flyers, scoring 259 goals with 265 assists in 664 games before being dealt to Tampa Bay for the 2010-11 season.
He signed with the Kings prior to last season, but was ineffective while struggling with injuries, including a concussion. Still, he returned to help them win the Stanley Cup.
Gagne has five assists in 11 games this year, but injuries to forwards Matt Read (torn ribcage muscles) and Tye McGinn (broken orbital bone) prompted Philadelphia to re-acquire the two-time All-Star.
Gagne had 12 goals and 10 assists in 18 meetings versus Washington in Philadelphia.
"He improves our depth up front automatically," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "He is a good two-way player that can skate. ... Coaches have watched tape of him playing, so we feel comfortable that he is fine. He seems excited to be coming back, and looks forward to an opportunity to play and help us."
Hartnell could also help if he can find the net with some regularity after scoring for the first time against the Maple Leafs. He's been limited to five games due to a broken left foot.
Hartnell, though, has four goals and three assists in 13 career home matchups with the Capitals, and he missed the latest matchup Feb. 1, a 3-2 loss in Washington.
The Flyers may draw some inspiration from the Capitals, who have won five of seven after winning just two of their first 11.
Washington, which continued its resurgence with a 3-0 win Tuesday over Carolina, is still at the bottom of the Southeast Division, but just four points behind the three-way tie for first among the Hurricanes, Tampa Bay and Winnipeg.
"We knew it was going to come around like this," said goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 33 saves for his fifth career shutout a day after signing a two-year contract extension. "So we were just being patient, learning what we needed to do, learning from our mistakes, and you can just see we're doing a good job."
Mike Ribeiro is looking to continue his outstanding play after getting an assist Tuesday. The center has five goals and nine assists over the past 10 games, managing at least a point in nine of them while getting seven on the power play.
Ribeiro has six points in his last six visits to Philadelphia, while Alexander Ovechkin has 14 goals and nine assists in 15 games there, including the playoffs.
Ovechkin enters this meeting with five points in two games after posting a hat trick in Saturday's 5-1 win over New Jersey.