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Five keys for Flyers vs. Capitals, Game 2

Ovechkin's involvement, Couturier's replacement among things to watch

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WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round Series at Verizon Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-DC, CSN-PH). The Capitals won 2-0 in Game 1 on Thursday.

Here are five keys for Game 2:

1. Better discipline: Neither team was happy with number of penalties it took in Game 1. The Capitals were fortunate to survive three Flyers power plays in the first period. Philadelphia was shorthanded five times during the last two periods, including a double-minor high-sticking penalty assessed to forward Sam Gagner, and a second period power-play goal by Capitals defenseman John Carlson turned out to be the game-winner.

Having to kill off six minutes in penalties in the third period also hampered the Flyers' ability to come back, tiring out some players and taking others who don't play on the penalty kill out of the rhythm of the game.

"Killing off three straight penalties killed off half the period," Flyers goalie Steve Mason said. "So I just think overall we have to manage the game a little better and put the first game behind us pretty quickly."

Against a Capitals power play that converted 21.9 percent of its chances during the regular season, the Flyers being shorthanded so many times in Game 2 would be asking for trouble.

2. Ovi time: Watch for Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin to break out after a relatively quiet Game 1. With all the time the Capitals spent on the penalty kill, Ovechkin's line with Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie did not attempt a shot in the first period. Ovechkin was more involved after that, but the Flyers did a good job taking away his shot from the left circle on the power play.

Although Ovechkin attempted 11 shots, three got through to the net, five were blocked by the Flyers and three missed the net. Ovechkin still had an impact with his physical play, tying for the Capitals lead with four hits.

Video: PHI@WSH, Gm1: Couturier exits game with injury on hit

3. Filling in for Couturier: With Sean Couturier out for two weeks because of an upper-body injury, the Flyers will be without their best checking center and one of their top penalty killers for the remainder of the series.

During the regular season, the Flyers had an 81.9-percent success rate killing penalties with Couturier in the lineup, but that dropped to 76.8 percent in the 19 games he missed.

Couturier's absence opens a lineup spot for Scott Laughton to make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut, but it appears Brayden Schenn will shift from right wing to fill the hole at center on the second line.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol would not confirm any lineup decisions following the morning skate. Laughton's teammates expressed confidence he would be able to handle whatever role he plays.

"He's a player that will compete and plays hard and he likes intense games, so I'm pretty excited to see him play," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said.

4. Score first: The Capitals were 34-2-2 when scoring the first goal in the regular season and are 1-0 in this series. Getting the win in Game 1 should take some of the pressure off the Presidents' Trophy winners. Scoring an early goal would only add to their confidence.

The Flyers can stem the momentum the Capitals built in Game 1 with an early goal in Game 2 and boost their own belief after being shut out.

Video: PHI@WSH, Gm1: Carlson sneaks puck past Mason for lead

5. Net-front presence: The Capitals scored their power-play goal when Carlson's point shot deflected off Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde, but they also had a double screen on the play, hampering Mason's vision.

The Flyers know they need to do a lot more to make life difficult for Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. They had 19 shots on goal, including eight in the last two periods, and didn't get enough traffic in front for either deflections or screens when they did get the puck to the net.

"We're playing against a good defensive team," Hakstol said. "You've got to work for your opportunities, and when you do get opportunities you've got to make the most of them. To make the most of opportunities you've got to get into the blue paint, you've got to get into the goaltender's eyes and you've got to find the rebounds."

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