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Flyers-Capitals Preview

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(November 4) - Little has gone right this season for the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday night, they get a chance to turn it around against an opponent they usually dominate.

Philadelphia looks to extend its 16-game home unbeaten streak against the Washington Capitals when the teams face off at the Wachovia Center.

After a 1-6-1 start to the season which led to the firing of head coach Ken Hitchcock and the resignation of general manager Bob Clarke, the Flyers (3-8-1) have regained some respectability after splitting the first four games of their current five-game homestand under new coach John Stevens.

However, Philadelphia failed to win consecutive games for the first time this season, when it fell behind 3-0 in the first two periods against Tampa Bay en route to a 5-2 defeat on Thursday. The Flyers have been outscored 34-15 in the first and second periods this season, and are 0-7-0 when trailing entering the final 20 minutes.

"It seems like we win one game and the next game we come back and we don't play as hard as we should," Flyers captain Peter Forsberg said. "If we're going to make some progress in the standings, we have put some good games together.

"We're putting ourselves in deep holes before the third periods. We have to make sure we have better starts so we''re not that deep in the hole."

Forsberg had a meltdown with 4:10 remaining in the third period Thursday. With the Flyers trailing 3-2, he got called for a high-sticking penalty. When he argued the call, he was assessed a double minor for high-sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct, plus a 10-minute misconduct, knocking him out of the game.

"The frustration kind of gathered there," Stevens said. "You don't want to put your team in that situation, but he did show emotion, that he cared. He just didn't go away quietly.

"I do think there are some positives in that. But there's a fine line between the passion and discipline. We need to find that fine line."

The Flyers have had little trouble at home against Washington (4-4-4) in recent years. In the last 16 meetings between the teams - dating to March 5, 1998 - Philadelphia has 15 wins and one tie.

The Flyers have outscored the Capitals 64-27 in those contests, including 13-5 in two games last season.

Forsberg scored three goals and had three assists in three games versus Washington last season, the first year with Philadelphia for the 11-year veteran center and 2003 Hart Trophy winner.

While the Flyers could not overcome a slow start in their last game, the Capitals squandered a 2-0 lead against Atlanta on Friday night, and lost 4-3 after Steve Rucchin's game-winning goal 27 seconds into the third period.

"We've had leads plenty of times this year and blown them, and that's something we have to turn around. We're a better team than what our record is," Washington captain Chris Clark said.

Dainius Zubrus scored two goals for the second straight game for Washington, raising his season total to a team-high nine. Reigning rookie of the year Alexander Ovechkin assisted on both of Zubrus' goals, giving him two assists for the second game in a row.

Zubrus, who played the first three seasons of his career for Philadelphia from 1996-99, had two goals and three assists in three games versus the Flyers last season. Ovechkin tallied three goals and two assists.

Washington lost three of the four meetings with Philadelphia last season.
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