NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, March 4th
(All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (35-21-7) at Washington Capitals (32-27-5), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - It has been quite some time since the Flyers scored the
first goal of the game. It's been 60 minutes since the Capitals lit the lamp
Philadelphia and Washington aim for fast starts this evening as the playoff
hopefuls tangle at the Verizon Center.
The Flyers were last in action on Thursday against the Islanders and saw New
York score just 1:35 into the game. It marked the ninth straight game that
Philadelphia has allowed the first goal and it earned a timeout and verbal
lashing from head coach Peter Laviolette early in the game.
Philadelphia responded with the next two goals on the way to a 6-3 victory.
Matt Read scored twice and had an assist, while Jaromir Jagr and Andrej
Meszaros both scored and had a helper.
"We have been talking about it and it has been awhile since we have scored the
first goal," said Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who notched his 500th
career point with an assist. "We want to win big games, we can't be down all
the time. We know that. We just need the better starts, pretty much for every
period. We have to fix that."
Philadelphia was returning home from a 2-2 road trip out west and got 21 saves
from Ilya Bryzgalov. Scott Hartnell set a new career high with his 31st goal
of the season and Jagr's 1,642 career points moved him past Joe Sakic for
eighth on the league's all-time list.
The Flyers are now tied with the Devils for fifth overall in the Eastern
Conference, four back of Pittsburgh and only one ahead of the Senators.
"It is a very nice and important two points for the standings," Bryzgalov
noted. "The last couple of games against the Islanders were tough. It wasn't
that much easier tonight, but the team put in a very good effort and I think
we deserved the win."
Philadelphia will have to finish out the regular season without forward James
van Riemsdyk, who will miss 4-to-6 weeks of action due to a broken bone in his
left foot sustained blocking a shot in the first period versus the Islanders.
It is the latest setback for the 22-year-old, who has already missed 20 games
this season, including 15 because of a concussion.
Van Riemsdyk has 11 goals and 13 assists in 43 games this season.
The Capitals, meanwhile, were denied a fourth straight victory with a loss to
the Devils on Friday. Three days after rallying for an overtime win against
the Islanders, Washington was dealt a 5-0 defeat by New Jersey, which got 23
saves by Johan Hedberg.
"He made the big saves early and it changed the tide of the whole game,"
Washington head coach Dale Hunter said. "We had our chances, we didn't bury
and they had their chances and they went in."
Michal Neuvirth stopped 15 shots for Washington, including only four on seven
shots in the first period. He could get the start again tonight after Tomas
Vokoun missed Saturday's practice with a lower-body injury.
Washington, which plays the third of a five-game homestand, is a point behind
Winnipeg for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and three back of
Southeast Division-leading Florida.
The Flyers are 3-1-1 in their past five games against the Capitals, with the
clubs trading road victories this season. Philadelphia logged a 5-1 win at
Washington on Dec. 13, breaking the game open with a three-goal second period.
Bryzgalov made 31 saves.
03/04 10:33:35 ET
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