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Flyers-Capitals Preview

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Last season was a forgettable one for the Philadelphia Flyers. Their play against the Washington Capitals was only one reason why.

Now sitting atop the Atlantic Division, the Flyers look to beat the Washington Capitals for the first time since February 2006, when they meet at the Verizon Center on Friday night.

In 2006-07, the Flyers managed just 56 points and finished last in the NHL for the first time in franchise history. Among its league-high 48 regulation losses, Philadelphia (7-4-0) was swept by Washington (5-7-0) in a season series for the first time as the Capitals held a 20-9 scoring advantage in the four games.

Alex Ovechkin paced the Capitals with six goals and five assists, including three straight three-point games. Alexander Semin tallied three goals and two assists and Chris Clark chipped in a goal and four assists in the season series.

Ovechkin has eight goals and 15 points this season to lead the Caps in both categories. An ankle injury has limited Semin to only four games and Clark has missed three straight after one of Ovechkin's shots struck him in the ear during a loss to Vancouver last Friday.

Simon Gagne led Philadelphia with three goals and two assists against the Capitals last season, but the two-time 40-goal scorer hasn't played since Oct. 24, when he suffered concussion-like symptoms after his jaw connected with Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester's shoulder. Gagne's status for this game is unknown.

High-priced free-agent acquisition Daniel Briere scored four goals in his first three games with the Flyers, but hasn't had one in eight games since. Briere has just four goals in nine career games versus Washington.

Neither the Capitals nor the Flyers showed much on offense while losing Thursday night.

Washington suffered its first shutout of the season, falling 2-0 to the New York Rangers in Madison Square Garden. Olaf Kolzig made 26 saves, but was outplayed by the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped all 31 shots he faced.

"We didn't capitalize in the first period when we had lots of chances," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "I was asked before the game who the top goalies in the league were and I said there are lots of them and you were going to watch two of them."

The Capitals have gone into a tailspin, losing seven of nine after opening with three straight wins for the first time since 2002-03.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, managed just 16 shots on goal in a 5-2 loss to Montreal. Mike Richards and Scottie Upshall scored for the Flyers, who have dropped three of four after a five-game winning streak.

The Flyers will be without defenseman Randy Jones again as he completes his two-game league-imposed suspension for hitting Boston's Patrice Bergeron from behind last Saturday

Philadelphia is playing the fifth of a season-high eight-game road trip, and will visit the Rangers, Pittsburgh and New Jersey before returning home to face the Penguins on Nov. 10.

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