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Philadelphia Flyers vs. Washington Capitals @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (35-16-12-6) at Washington Capitals (20-37-8-2).

TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.

Coming off an emotional and brutal victory over one of the teams vying for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Flyers hope to avoid a letdown when they visit the Washington Capitals.

The Flyers beat Ottawa 5-3 on Friday to keep pace with streaking Tampa Bay for the top spot in the East with 88 points. However, the game turned into an ugly slugfest featuring five consecutive brawls in the final two minutes and an NHL-record 419 penalty minutes.

Officials needed about 90 minutes after the game ended to sort the penalties. The previous record for penalty minutes was 406 by the Minnesota North Stars and Boston Bruins in 1981. The Flyers had 213 minutes and Ottawa had 206.

After the game, Philadelphia general manager Bob Clarke, captain of the infamous "Broad Street Bullies" Flyer teams of the 1970s, went toward Ottawa's dressing room, but was stopped by Flyers officials.

"Their tough guy (Rob Ray) got beat up and then their next two lines fought guys who don't fight," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I don't care what it shows them. We played a great game."

Five different players scored for Philadelphia, which snapped a five-game winless streak against Ottawa (0-3-2). The Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Senators the last two seasons, and were 3-10-3 against them since a 1-0 victory in Game 1 of the 2002 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

There will undoubtedly be less incentive heading into this game for Philadelphia, but a win could prove just as vital as the Flyers continue to pursue the coveted top spot in the East. The Flyers, Lightning, Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins are separated by just four points.

Far removed from the postseason race, the Capitals have lost five of six, including Friday's 3-2 setback to the New York Rangers.

Trent Whitfield and Kip Miller scored for Washington, which has been stripping down its roster for several months in the hopes of reducing payroll.

"We're still trying, even though we're out of the playoffs," Washington goalie Sebastien Charpentier said.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 88 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Capitals - 50 points, 5th place, 38 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Mark Recchi, 25 goals, 40 assists and 65 points; Donald Brashear, 169 PIM. Capitals - Anson Carter, 14 goals; Jeff Halpern, 18 assists and 29 points; Jason Doig, 105 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 4): Flyers - Power play: 23.7 percent (60 for 253), 1st in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.1 percent (243 for 289), 17th. Capitals - Power play: 18.8 percent (52 for 276), 6th. Penalty killing: 81.7 percent (259 for 317), 25th.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Robert Esche (18-7-5, 2 SO, 1.95 GAA); Sean Burke (14-19-6, 1, 2.85). Capitals - Olaf Kolzig (17-30-7, 2, 2.83); Charpentier (0-4-0, 3.14).

SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 4; Flyers, 5-1. At Philadelphia, Rookie Antero Niittymaki made 19 saves in his first career start as the Flyers breezed past the Capitals for the third time this season. John LeClair scored the go-ahead goal for Philadelphia.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 13-9-10-3 on the road; Capitals - 10-17-5-1 at home.

Associated Press
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