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Flyers' Neuvirth says pressure is on Capitals

Goalie, who spent six seasons with organization, knows how eager Washington is to win first Cup

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth knows a thing or two about his team's first-round opponent in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Neuvirth was drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2006 and was a member of their organization until 2014. He knows how badly the Capitals are trying to get over the hump and win what has been an elusive championship.

One could make the case expectations never have been higher in Washington after winning the Presidents' Trophy with 120 points. But Neuvirth likes the Flyers' chances if they simply play their game.

Complete coverage: Capitals vs. Flyers series

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round is Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"I've been there, and we had great teams for a few years," said Neuvirth, who made 15 saves in Philadelphia's 5-2 win against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Sunday. "We never could make it in the playoffs. Anything can happen in the playoffs. With the Islanders last year we made Game 7. But I think we're going to be ready for them."

Video: PHI@NYI: Neuvirth stops Quine's one-timer from slot

Led by the emergence of rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, the Flyers had a strong second half and clinched a playoff berth with a 3-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. They did just enough to secure the second wild card from the Eastern Conference. Now the Flyers have a chance to pull off what would be an incredible upset.

"It's playoffs," Neuvirth said. "You're motivated as much as you want, but obviously we've got a great team. It's going to be a lot of pressure on them and it's going to be a good series."

But what will it take to eliminate what was the best team in the NHL during the regular season?

"Everything we've got," Flyers forward Michael Raffl said. "We need to have a really tight defense and capitalize on our chances, our offense, I think."

Forwards Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier were scratched Sunday as a precaution. The Flyers know they will need all hands on deck if they have any chance of ruining what has been a phenomenal season for the Capitals.

They are off Monday after playing three games in four days to end the regular season. Coach Dave Hakstol said he expects things to be all business for practice Tuesday.

"We like our group," Hakstol said. "I'm not making any predictions; I never have all year. We feel good about our group in our room, a very, very tight-knit and competitive group. Now we have a couple of days to get ourselves ready, first of all, to get a day of rest, and then to start preparing for the start of the series in the middle of the week.

"It starts with the guys in this locker room and their mentality of playing hard together. I think we've got a great team-first mentality in here. All the way through the year, different guys have stepped up at key times. I think those are some key elements as you go into a playoff series."

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