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Flyers, Capitals set for another matinee

by Brian Hunter

FLYERS (31-24-6) at CAPITALS (29-23-9)


Last 10: Philadelphia 6-4-0; Washington 7-2-1

Season series: This is the fourth of five games between the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals and the start of a home-and-home that concludes March 5 at Wells Fargo Center with a Wednesday Night Rivalry matchup. The Capitals routed the Flyers 7-0 on Nov. 1 before the teams split a home-and-home series in mid-December. Washington's Joel Ward and Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek each have three goals to lead their respective teams.

Big story: Key points in the Metropolitan Division and the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference are at stake Sunday afternoon as the Flyers and Capitals, separated by one point in the standings, face off in front of a national television audience. Each team is playing its second matinee in as many days after winning Saturday.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Routed by the San Jose Sharks in its first game out of the Olympic break, Philadelphia got exactly the bounce-back performance it needed with a key 4-2 win against the New York Rangers. The Flyers closed to within one point of the Rangers and would take over second place in the division, at least temporarily, with a victory Sunday. The Rangers host the Boston Bruins in the evening.

Steve Mason, who has been up and down since signing a three-year contract extension in mid-January, was stellar Saturday with 33 saves. The Flyers received goals from four different players, with Wayne Simmonds contributing the game-winner after setting up Vincent Lecavalier to open the scoring.

"I think our guys have good character," coach Craig Berube said. "I was pretty confident we'd come out and play hard."

Capitals: Two wins prior to the break and two wins after and Washington has tied its season-high of four in a row at a time when points are at a premium. The Capitals also beat a quality opponent on the road Saturday, handing the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins a 4-2 defeat.

Alex Ovechkin continues to be a given, scoring his NHL-best 42nd and 43rd goals of the season, but the supplementary scoring was there as well. Ward notched his career-high 18th and Eric Fehr added his 10th.

"We went into the break how we wanted to, that was a big thing for us, and we came back really refreshed," said goalie Braden Holtby, who made 36 saves. "It's good, but again those are just numbers and they are in the past, and the biggest thing is [the game Sunday]."

Who's hot: Simmonds has one goal and four assists during a four-game point streak for the Flyers. … Ovechkin has three goals and two assists in two games since the Olympics and a four-game point streak (four goals, three assists) overall. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom also has a four-game point streak (one goal, six assists).

Injury report: Philadelphia goalie Ray Emery (lower body) did not dress Saturday and is day-to-day. … Washington forward Mikhail Grabovski (ankle) missed the game Saturday. Forward Aaron Volpatti (upper body) is on injured reserve. Defenseman Jack Hillen (leg) is close to returning. He hasn't played since breaking his leg Oct. 3 against the Calgary Flames.

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