Photo: Len Redkoles/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night for the second meeting between the two teams this season. The Capitals took the first game against the Flyers in a shootout by a 2-1 score on November 13 for their fifth straight victory against the orange and black dating back to last season. NBCSN will have the broadcast nationally on “Wednesday Night Hockey” beginning at 7:30 PM ET.
The Capitals make a pit-stop in Philadelphia during a stretch where they play four of five games and 11 of 16 at Capital One Arena after pounding the Ottawa Senators by a 6-1 count on Tuesday night, when they became the first team in the NHL this season to hit 30 wins. They are a league-best 17-5-1 away from their home rink but before beating the Carolina Hurricanes in their last road game on Friday, the Capitals had lost two consecutive road games in regulation by a combined score of 13-6 and three of their previous four (1-3-0). The Capitals are 5-1-1 in the second half of back-to-backs, including 3-1-1 after a win in the first.
The Capitals’ win over the Senators on Tuesday marked their third straight victory, which follows a stretch where they went 5-5-0 in their previous 10 outings. They scored at least three goals in each of their last five games but allowed at least three in each of the first four of those games. The Capitals are currently eight points clear of the New York Islanders, who have two games in hand on them, and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have one, for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division and four points ahead of the Boston Bruins for first in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals and Bruins have each played 44 games this season.
Defenseman John Carlson’s 54 points are the 10th-most in the NHL this season while his 41 assists are tied with Bruins forward Brad Marchand for the third-most. He tallied two helpers against the Senators on Tuesday. His +17 rating is tied for the 10th-best in the NHL this season. The 29-year old is currently riding a three-game assist streak, where he has compiled four in that span, and has one goal and nine points in his last nine games. With two goals against the Senators, captain Alex Ovechkin now has 26 this season, which is tied for third in the NHL. He has four goals and nine points in his last nine games.
The Capitals’ average of 3.59 goals-per-game this season is currently tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs for third in the NHL this season while their average of 2.91 goals-against per game is ninth. Their 21.8% power-play efficiency is eighth and 83.4% penalty-killing efficiency is third. The Capitals have averaged 32 shots-per-game this season, which is 12th, and 30.1 shots-against per game, which is tied with the San Jose Sharks for the seventh-fewest.
After goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 26 saves in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over the Senators, Braden Holtby, who is 18-7-4 with a .902 save percentage and a 2.99 goals-against average this season, will start against the Flyers on Wednesday. In 26 career games against the Flyers, the 30-year old is 13-4-8 with a .920 save percentage, a 2.39 goals-against average, and two shutouts. He made 30 saves in the Capitals’ 2-1 shootout win at Wells Fargo Center on November 13.
Like the Capitals, the Flyers come home to finish a set of back-to-backs after finishing their season-long six-game road trip, on which they went 1-4-1, with the 5-4 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night. They now begin a three-game homestand and a stretch where they play six of seven on home ice before their bye-week. The Flyers are 13-2-4 at Wells Fargo Center this season and have won their last four games and seven of their last eight (7-1-0).
Due to their lackluster road trip, the Flyers are now tied with the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wild-card in the Eastern Conference but own the tie-breaker as they have one game in hand on them. The Flyers won four straight entering the NHL’s holiday break after an inconsistent month of December.
Forward Travis Konecny leads the Flyers with 37 points in 40 games this season, while his 13 goals are tied with forward Claude Giroux for the team lead. Konecny scored in the team’s 5-4 overtime loss in Raleigh and has two goals in his last three games. Giroux has two goals and seven points in the Flyers’ last seven games. Forward Jakub Voracek, who’s tallied seven assists in his last five outings and 12 points (two goals) in his past 10 games, leads the Flyers with 26 assists this season.
The Flyers lead the NHL with a 54.5% faceoff-winning percentage and allow the third-fewest shots-per-game (29) this season. Their average of 3.09 goals-per-game is 15th in the league while their average of 3.00 goals-against per game is currently tied with the Calgary Flames for 12th. The Flyers’ 19.3% efficiency on the power-play is 16th in the league while their 81.1% penalty-killing rate is tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for 12th.
After Brian Elliott made 28 saves in the Flyers’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday, goaltender Carter Hart, who is 13-10-3 with a .905 save percentage, a 2.61 goals-against average, and one shutout this season, will start against the Capitals on Wednesday night. In two career appearances against the Capitals, the 21-year old is 0-1-1 with a .925 save percentage and a 2.43 goals-against average.
- Ovechkin is one goal shy of passing Teemu Selanne (684) for 11th on the NHL’s all-time goals list
- The Capitals got to 30 wins in their first 44 games for the second time in franchise history (2015-16: 30 wins in 40 games)
- Carlson became the seventh defenseman since 1979-80 to record 41 assists in his team’s first 44 games of the season and the first since Paul Coffey, Phil Housley and Brian Leetch (1991-92) on Tuesday
- The Capitals play five-straight games against Metropolitan Division opponents starting on Wednesday and have a 6-5-1 record against Metropolitan Division teams this season
- The Capitals have seven players with at least 10 goals (Ovechkin: 26; forwards Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie: 18; center Evgeny Kuznetsov: 16; Carlson and forward Tom Wilson: 13; center Lars Eller: 11) – tied with the Colorado Avalanche for the most in the NHL
- Kuznetsov has recorded a point in six straight games (four goals, eight points), three games shy of the longest streak by a Capital this season (Ovechkin and Carlson: nine games)
- Forward Jakub Vrana has three goals in his last three games
By Harrison Brown