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Niskanen plays at Washington for first time since trade; Ovechkin seeks 700th NHL goal

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

FLYERS (29-18-7) at CAPITALS (36-13-5)



The Game

Alex Ovechkin seeks to become the eighth player in NHL history to score 700 goals when the Washington Capitals host the Philadelphia Flyers at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

Ovechkin, who has 698 goals, scored the first natural hat trick of his career in the third period of a 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday, and has 14 goals in his past seven games.

The Capitals are 6-2-0 in their past eight games.

Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen, who spent the past five seasons with the Capitals and was traded to Philadelphia for defenseman Radko Gudas on June 14, will play his first game at Washington.

The Flyers are 6-2-1 in their past nine games.


Players to watch 

Flyers forward Sean Couturier has no points in his past two games after having 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in his previous 12 games.

Capitals forward Carl Hagelin has a career-high, seven-game point streak (three goals, four assists).


They said it

"Nothing. You have to still score two goals, right? When it's 699, yeah, it's going to be in my head. But right now, it's still two goals. Not a long way, but still." -- Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin on what goes through his mind as he approaches 700 NHL goals

"The important question for me is getting my team ready for Washington. I will reaffirm that we are getting in. We're going to get into the playoffs. Once we're there we'll deal with [our chances], but first we've got to get there. To get there we have to stay in the moment. We've got to focus on Washington." -- Flyers coach Alain Vigneault 


Flyers projected lineup

Claude Giroux -- Sean Couturier -- Jakub Voracek

Scott Laughton -- Kevin Hayes -- Travis Konecny

James van Riemsdyk -- Morgan Frost -- Tyler Pitlick

Michael Raffl -- Connor Bunnaman -- Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Ivan Provorov -- Matt Niskanen

Travis Sanheim -- Philippe Myers

Robert Hagg -- Justin Braun

Brian Elliott

Alex Lyon

Scratched: Shayne Gostisbehere

Injured: Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder), Carter Hart (abdominal strain), Joel Farabee (flu)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- T.J. Oshie

Jakub Vrana -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Carl Hagelin -- Lars Eller -- Richard Panik

Brendan Leipsic -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Martin Fehervary

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Travis Boyd, Nick Jensen

Injured: None


Status report

The Flyers did not hold a morning skate. Gotisbehere, who returned to the lineup in a 5-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday after missing 10 games following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Jan. 14, skated on a fourth defense pair at practice on Friday. … Frost was recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Friday and forward Andy Andreoff was assigned there. … Fehervary was recalled from Hershey of the AHL.


Stat pack

Giroux needs three points for 800 in the NHL. … The Capitals penalty kill is 29-for-32 in their past 11 games. … Philadelphia is 2-for-17 on the power play in its past five games.

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