The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers clash for the second time this season when the Capitals close out a short two-game homestand on Sunday afternoon. The game will be televised on NBC at 12:30 from Capital One Arena. Here are five storylines heading into the game:
1. Revenge Factor
The Capitals likely do not forget their last game against the Broad Street Bullies, an ugly 8-2 loss in the Flyers’ home opener on October 14. Washington has responded well to the other times they have faced a team after getting blown out on the road, winning 5-2 against the Colorado Avalanche on December 12 after getting buried 6-2 at Pepsi Center on November 16 and downing the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on January 9 after falling 6-2 in Vancouver on October 26.
Washington will get another chance to make up for one of their most abysmal games of the season on Sunday. They have won their past three home games against the Flyers.
2. Metropolitan Clash
The Flyers beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Sunday at Wells Fargo Center and are a point south of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have won six of their past seven games. Despite being outside of a playoff spot at the moment, the Flyers and Capitals are separated by eight points.
It’s no question that the Metropolitan Division is the best in the league and anytime two Metro rivals meet, it’s a big game.
Washington is sitting four points ahead of the Devils for first in the division.
3. Getting Back in the Game
Washington has dropped its first two games since returning from their bye week on Thursday, falling to the Devils 4-3 in overtime and the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Friday. The Capitals had its first practice since last Wednesday on Saturday morning.
Washington will likely come into Sunday’s game with some purpose after falling flat against Montreal on Friday and some key points on the line against a Metro Division. The Capitals will be looking to avoid losing their third game in their last four after winning a season-high five in a row.
4. Goaltending Matchup
Braden Holtby and Brian Elliott will likely get the starts for their respective times.
Holtby, named an All-Star from the Metropolitan Division, is 24-9-1 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.70 goals against average. Lifetime against the Flyers, he is 8-8-2 with a .916 save percentage and a 2.69 goals against average. He made 28 saves on Thursday in the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime loss in New Jersey, his last start.
Elliott, who signed with the Flyers as a free agent in the offseason, is 17-11-7 with a .906 save percentage and a 2.84 goals against average. Elliott is 7-5-0 with an .890 save percentage and a 3.21 goals against average lifetime against the Capitals. He gave up five goals on 21 shots in his most recent outing, a 5-1 loss to the New York Rangers last Tuesday.
5. Another Milestone for Ovechkin?
Alex Ovechkin, known mostly for his goal-scoring prowess, is one assist shy from his 500th career assist. He notched an assist in the Capitals’ 3-2 loss to the Canadiens on Friday. Ovechkin would become the second Capital to reach the milestone after Nicklas Backstrom reached the milestone on January 7 against the Ottawa Senators last season.
This season, Ovechkin’s 22 assists are fourth on the team.
Ovechkin leads the NHL with 28 goals and is tied for 12th with 50 points, which also leads the Capitals.
Ovechkin would become the 143rd player in NHL history to reach the milestone.
By Harrison Brown