Capitals host Flyers in Metropolitan showdown

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The Philadelphia Flyers are riding a six-game winning streak and have jumped to second place in the Metropolitan Division, just three points behind the Capitals entering Wednesday’s clash in Washington.

The Capitals (40-19-6, 86 points) and Flyers (38-20-7, 83 points) both have 17 games left. The Flyers were on the edge of the playoffs not long ago, but a hot streak has them in the hunt for a division title.

Philadelphia is coming off of a 5-3 victory over the Rangers in New York on Sunday, a win that pleased coach Alain Vigneault.

“We’re playing hard, trying to play the right way, and obviously our power play lately has been a big weapon for us,” Vigneault told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s gotten big goals at big, big moments.”

The Flyers were 3-for-5 on the power play against New York. During its current streak, Philadelphia has scored on 7-of-15 opportunities with the man advantage.

The Flyers have had success against Washington, going 2-0-1 this season. Most recently came a 7-2 rout in Washington on Feb. 8 where Philadelphia simply dominated most of the game.

Sean Couturier scored two goals in that game as the Flyers notched six of the game’s final seven goals.

Philadelphia is coming off a strong performance in the win over the Rangers, which completed a sweep of a home-and-home series with New York. Couturier, Matt Niskanen and Travis Konecny all scored on the power play while Michael Raffl added a short-handed score.

The Capitals are slowly trying to get back on their feet after struggling at times in the last two months. They beat Minnesota 4-3 on Sunday for a road victory that kept them three points ahead of the Flyers and now have won three of their last four games.

Washington got two goals and an assist from Alex Ovechkin against the Wild. The new 700-goal club member now has 45 goals this season.

Coach Todd Reirden played around with his line combinations, putting Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Kovalchuk together a few times to see how that worked.

Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game when that trio was together. The play began when Kovalchuk fed Kuznetsov, who passed to a wide-open Ovechkin in the left circle. Ovechkin then buried the shot for a 3-1 first-period lead.

Reirden said he was curious about putting the three Russian players together.

“I’ve done some research on this one,” Reirden told the team’s website. “They haven’t played a lot together with the national team or anything, so that’s something that I wanted to see a little bit and we’ll see moving forward, some different combinations that I think can keep the opposition on their heels.”

Washington’s T.J. Oshie will be playing in his 800th career game in this contest and would become the 15th player picked in the 2005 NHL Draft to achieve that milestone. Oshie has 25 goals this season, tied with Jakub Vrana for the team behind Ovechkin.

–Field Level Media

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