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Two big points on the line for Capitals, Flyers

by Mike Battaglino

CAPITALS (16-17-1) at FLYERS (14-17-3)


Last 10: Washington 6-4-0; Philadelphia 3-5-2

Season series: This is the last of three meetings; each team has a victory at home. The Washington Capitals won 3-2 Feb. 1; the Philadelphia Flyers took a 4-1 decision Feb. 27.

Big story: After the teams' game at the end of February, the Flyers held eighth place in the Eastern Conference and the Capitals were 14th. Heading into Sunday, Washington is 11th and Philadelphia is 14th, four points out of eighth. Each has 14 games remaining.

"It's kind of like a long extended playoff series here," Capitals forward Troy Brouwer said prior to playing Saturday. "Every game that we play from now until I think six or seven games from now are all teams that we're fighting to try to get into the playoffs with.

"It's not even teams we're trying to catch. We're all battling amongst each other and it makes it tough because that means teams are getting points every night that we're trying to jockey with for position in the standings."

Team Scope:

Capitals: A win would put Washington at .500 for the first time this season. The Capitals got their fourth road win in a row by scoring with 40 seconds left in the third period before defeating the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in a shootout.

"This is a huge trip for us," defenseman Mike Green said. "We've been playing well on the road lately and we need to continue that. As everyone knows, it's harder to win on the road, and these points are huge for us."

Green scored the tying goal and had his first multipoint game since Jan. 25, his second since Oct. 22, 2011.

"That's what the leaders on your team do, and he did a great job of that," goalie Braden Holtby said of Green's goal. "... You can tell when the game gets close to the end and the game is on the line, he wants [the puck]. He wants to be the guy, and that's a great characteristic to have as one of the leaders on your team."

Game time is 6 p.m. after Saturday's 7 p.m. start with the Flyers having played at home Saturday at 1 p.m.

"Philly gets a little bit more rest than us, but, you know what, we needed the points, we got 'em; hopefully that gives you some confidence and we can turn it into a good start tomorrow," coach Adam Oates said.

Flyers: Despite never winning more than two games in a row, and enduring a season-long four-game losing streak before a 3-1 win against the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia maintains an outside chance to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's been kind of a tough season for us, just a lot of ups and downs, and I think [Saturday] is a momentum builder for our team, and I think with the remaining games, we just keep playing like that, and who knows?" forward Matt Read said.

"We've just got to keep winning and try and make a playoff run, but we've got to put this game behind us, and we have another important one tomorrow against Washington."

The Flyers added defenseman Kent Huskins in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, but it sounded like rookie Oliver Lauridsen would remain in the lineup after his performance Saturday. Lauridsen played several shifts against the Bruins' top line and perhaps could find himself matched against Alexander Ovechkin.

"When a young player comes in you want to watch and see how he's doing in his first game, and as the game progressed, he was fine," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "He did a good job defensively and that's a tough line to play against (Saturday)."

Who's hot: Ovechkin, who had 10 shots on goal Saturday, has eight goals and 13 points in the past nine games. … The Flyers power play is 5-for-5 over the past four games and has moved to the top of the NHL (32-for-129, 24.8 percent). Forward Zac Rinaldo was credited with 12 hits in 12:41 of ice time on Saturday. "Give me 18, I'll give you 20," he said.

Injury report: Capitals defensemen John Erskine (upper body), Tom Poti (back) and Tomas Kundratek (knee), and forward Eric Fehr (upper body) are day-to-day. … Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann (upper body) is questionable. Forward Danny Briere (concussion) and defensemen Braydon Coburn (upper body) and Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) are on injured reserve.

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