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Five keys for Flyers vs. Capitals, Game 4

Capitals look to sweep Philadelphia, which turns to Neuvirth

by Tom Gulitti @tomgulittinhl / Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA - The Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers play Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-PH, CSN-DC). The Capitals lead the best-of-7 series 3-0 and are seeking the first four-game sweep in franchise history.

Here are five keys for Game 4:

1. Killer instinct: The Capitals have never been up 3-0 in a best-of-7 series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs before. They want to play with urgency to finish off the Flyers and not give them any hope that they can come back. It would also give them some rest before they begin the second round.

"You've got a team that's got their back against the wall. You want to make sure you can get that four [wins]," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said following the team's optional morning skate Wednesday. "Every series is about getting the four and we need to get the four. The sooner you get the four, it gives you a couple of opportunities to rest guys, heal guys, a little mental break from the pressures of playoff hockey and a little more time to prepare."

Video: PHI@CHI: Neuvirth keeps the game tied at 2

2. Neuvirth's chance: The Flyers will turn to former Capital Michal Neuvirth in goal after Steve Mason started the first three games. Mason played well in Game 1, but struggled the last two games, allowing 10 goals on 50 shots (.800 save percentage). Seven of those goals came on the power play. Neuvirth played in two of the team's final 19 regular-season games because of a lower-body injury. He's completely healthy now, but jumping into a playoff series after getting little work over the last month and a half will be a challenge.

"I played with [Neuvirth] when he was young," Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. "He's been special since he was a kid. He always was pretty clutch. I'm sure he'll be fine tonight."

3. Pressure Backstrom: The Flyers' passive approach on the penalty kill has not been working as the Capitals have shredded them for eight power-play goals in the series, including a team-record five in a 6-1 victory in Game 3. The Flyers have been giving Nicklas Backstrom plenty of space and time to run the power play from the right half-boards and find the open shooter.

Pressuring Backstrom will force him into making quicker decisions and possibly commit turnovers.

Video: PHI@WSH, Gm2: Backstrom beats Mason with perfect shot

Cutting down on the number of penalties would also help. This series will be over if the Flyers give the Capitals nine power plays, as they did in Game 3, again.

4. Giroux-Simmonds: It appears the Flyers will tweak their line combinations with Brayden Schenn replacing Voracek at left wing on the top line with Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. Voracek, who will drop to the second line with Michael Raffl and Sam Gagner, has one of the Flyers' two goals in the series, but Giroux and Simmonds do not have a point.

Giroux and Simmonds have combined for 14 shots on goal in the series, eight at even strength. Although they've had some scoring chances, they haven't been able to break through against Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby.

5. Replacing Orpik: With Brooks Orpik out after appearing dazed by a Ryan White hit in Game 3, the Capitals will be missing one of their top four defensemen and a key member of their penalty kill, which is 13-for-13 in the series.

The Capitals are used to this, though, after Orpik missed 40 games with a lower-body injury during the regular season. Taylor Chorney, 28, will replace Orpik in the lineup for Game 4, but he'll play in the third pair with Dmitry Orlov. Nate Schmidt will move up to play alongside John Carlson in the Capitals second pair.

Video: WSH@PHI, Gm3: Orpik leaves game after taking a check

Chorney played in five playoff games last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, so he has some postseason experience to fall back on.

"Everybody dreams of getting a chance to play in the playoffs and you just go out there and trust your game and embrace the opportunity," he said.

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