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Flyers start Neuvirth against Capitals in Game 4

Hakstol says 'good time for a change' with Philadelphia facing elimination from Stanley Cup Playoffs

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor


Eastern Conference First Round

Washington leads best-of-7 series 3-0

TV: 7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports, CSN-PH, CSN-DC

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will have a new goalie and potentially three new forward lines when they play the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.

The Capitals lead the series 3-0. They never have swept a best-of-7 series. 

Goalie Michal Neuvirth will start for the Flyers after Steve Mason started the first three games. 

"It's not a negative to [Mason]," coach Dave Hakstol said. "It's about winning Game 4, pure and simple. 

"I think it's a good time for a change for our team going into this game. And I believe [Neuvirth] is a guy that can go in for us in this situation and do a great job."

Neuvirth played the Flyers' regular-season finale against the New York Islanders on April 10, making 15 saves in a 5-2 victory. It was his first game since he sustained a lower-body injury against the Chicago Blackhawks on March 16.

"I feel pretty good," Neuvirth said. "I feel good about my game. Definitely going to play with confidence. I've been practicing well and I'll be ready."

The Flyers also had a new-look top line, with Brayden Schenn at left wing alongside center Claude Giroux and right wing Wayne Simmonds. That line was put together Feb. 16, and in 21 games together combined for 23 goals, but has totaled one assist in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Schenn had centered the second line, with Michael Raffl at left wing and Sam Gagner at right wing since Sean Couturier sustained an upper-body injury during Game 1. 

"Brayden is a guy that's had success at both spots," Hakstol said. "When called upon he's been good up the middle, as well as when he's been on a line with Giroux. They've had some good chemistry."

Jakub Voracek was moved to left wing on a line with Raffl at center and Gagner at right wing. 

Ryan White moved to center on the fourth line in place of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who received a one-game suspension from the NHL Department of Player Safety on Tuesday for boarding Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov in the third period of Game 3. Colin McDonald will enter the lineup at right wing. McDonald was recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Sunday and was a healthy scratch for Game 3. 

"You're going to see potentially different line combinations tonight," Hakstol said. "I know everyone wants to look at what we had in morning skate. ... We need to generate a little bit more. I think putting an emphasis for us as we go into tonight's game on making a few more plays and trying to do that consistently through the game is important."

The Capitals will have one lineup change. Defenseman Taylor Chorney will replace Brooks Orpik, who is out because of an upper-body injury sustained during the second period of Game 3. 

Chorney had six points in 55 regular-season games but was a healthy scratch the first three games of the postseason.

"[Chorney] has been with us the whole year and has done a really good job," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after an optional morning skate at Wells Fargo Center. "I think you go into this game and we're going to play hockey and, you know, try to get a victory tonight. We're putting the lineup that we think will best suit us."

Goaltender Braden Holtby said he feels fine after leaving practice Tuesday following a collision with a teammate. 

"No ill effects so I'm ready for Game 4," Holtby said. "It's just one of those things that sometimes happens in practice. Just wanted to be cautious with it, not push a little too far because the main focus is Game 4 and that's what we're focused on."

Here are the projected lineups: 


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Mike Richards - Marcus Johansson

Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Braden Holtby

Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Brooks Orpik (upper body)

Scratched: Mike Weber, Stanislav Galiev, Michael Latta


Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds

Jakub Voracek - Michael Raffl - Sam Gagner

Scott Laughton - Nick Cousins - Matt Read

Chris VandeVelde - Ryan White - Colin McDonald

Andrew MacDonald - Shayne Gostisbehere

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit

Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas

Michal Neuvirth

Steve Mason

Injured: Michael Del Zotto (wrist), Sean Couturier (upper body)

Scratched: R.J. Umberger, Jordan Weal, Evgeny Medvedev, Mark Alt, Davis Drewiske, Robert Hagg, Samuel Morin, Cole Bardreau, Chris Conner, Taylor Leier, Anthony Stolarz

Suspended: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Status report: Schmidt will take Orpik's spot alongside Carlson on the Capitals' second defense pairing. "Nate stepped up and did a tremendous job for us in that situation [in Game 3]," Trotz said. "He's a fantastic skater. He can add to the offense. He defends extremely well because of his mobility and his ability to get body position. Nate has really evolved as a real strong player for us this year." ... The Flyers will have structural changes to their penalty kill, including having their forwards play higher in the zone. The Capitals are 8-for-17 in the series on the power play, and scored five of their six goals in Game 3 on the man-advantage. "We have to do a better job keeping them outside and limiting their quality shots they're getting to the net," said defenseman Nick Schultz, who has averaged a Flyers-high 5:17 of shorthanded ice time per game. "We talked today about making some adjustments to our penalty killing and doing a better job. ... What we've done right now, it hasn't worked well for us. We've got to be a lot better in that area."

Who's hot: Backstrom has one goal and five assists in three games. ... Schultz leads the Flyers with 10 blocked shots, including six in Game 3.

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