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Ovi starting to heat up as Capitals drop in on Flyers

by Adam Kimelman
CAPITALS (37-30-6) at FLYERS (42-23-8)


Last 10:
Washington 5-4-1; Philadelphia 7-2-1

Season series:
This is the fourth and final regular-season meeting between the teams. Philadelphia has taken the last two games, including a 1-0 win in Washington on March 4. In their only game in Philadelphia, Alex Ovechkin scored twice in a 5-2 Caps win on Oct. 20.

Big Story: The Capitals need a win to stay alive in the race for the Southeast Division title, while the Flyers could use the points if they hope to catch the Penguins and Rangers in the fight for the Atlantic Division.

Team Scope:

Capitals: Nicklas Backstrom continues to work his way back from the concussion he suffered Jan. 3.

The Washington Post reported Backstrom was on the ice for about 35 minutes with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish. The newspaper also reported it's the eighth time in the last nine days Backstrom has been on the ice.

When asked if Backstrom was any closer to rejoining the team, coach Dale Hunter told reporters, "He's going to do more and more. You’ll see, next week he's going to do more."

Flyers: Philadelphia had multiple chances Tuesday against Florida, but a faltering power play let the Flyers down.

They went 0-for-4 with the extra man in the 2-1 loss to the Panthers. All four advantages came in the first period, including a 42-second 5-on-3 power play. They're just 4-for-26 on the power play in their last 10 games; that 15.4-percent efficiency is far below their season rate of 19.5 percent.

"The first two power plays, we didn't even create much, and the 5-on-3 was a tough one, as well," center Danny Briere told reporters following Tuesday's game. "To have four power plays in the first period and come up empty-handed, you knew they were going to get their chances later on their power play."

They did, scoring the eventual game-winner on a second-period power play.
Who's Hot:
Ovechkin appears to be hitting his stride at the perfect time, with 5 goals in the Capitals' last four games. … Flyers forward Scott Hartnell has 3 goals in his last four games, with two of them being game-winners.

Injury Report:
Capitals goalie Tomas Vokoun is out with a groin strain. Backstrom remains sidelined by a concussion, but he is skating again. Forward Alexander Semin skipped Wednesday's practice, but the team said it was a maintenance day and that he will play Thursday. … The Flyers will be without defenseman Andrej Meszaros for 6-8 weeks following surgery Wednesday to remove a disc fragment from his back.

Stat Pack: Ovechkin getting hot now could be bad news for the Flyers. In 25 NHL games against Philadelphia, Ovechkin has 22 goals.

Puck Drop:
Coming on the heels of three emotional games against the Devils, Bruins and Penguins last week, the Flyers admitted there might have been a letdown Tuesday against the Panthers.

"Sometimes, when you play and you come out of a stretch where you play New Jersey, Boston and Pittsburgh, this game gets lost a little bit," Briere told reporters following Tuesday's game. "I think maybe we came into the game a little bit too flat in that emotion. It's tough to reproduce the same emotion after riding so high.

"I think it was a little tough to find it at times, especially early in the game, and by the time we got that back, it was 2-0 them."

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