NHL Network Showcase: 3 Storylines for Capitals vs. Flyers

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The Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers face off for the sixth of eight games Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSP, NBCSWA, NHL.TV) in the “NHL Network Showcase presented by SAP.” 

The Capitals (28-12-4) have won three of their past four games. They lead the MassMutual East Division by two points over the New York Islanders and are 4-1-0 against the Flyers, including a 6-1 home win Tuesday. 

Washington is 22-2-0 leading after two periods. Only the Colorado Avalanche (24-0-1) are better.

The Flyers (20-17-6) are 9-13-3 since an 11-4-3 start and have fallen to sixth in the eight-team East, eight points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Here are 3 storylines to keep an eye on: 

 

The Great Eight

Alex Ovechkin has scored 728 goals, four from passing Hockey Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne (731) for fifth in NHL history. The Capitals captain has scored 14 goals in his past 19 games and 22 this season, eight from setting the NHL record with 16 consecutive 30-goal seasons. Mike Gartner and Jaromir Jagr each had 15, with Gartner the record holder for most 30-goal seasons in an NHL career (17).

Hart-breakers

The Flyers have allowed at least five goals 13 times this season, including nine and eight in losses to the New York Rangers on March 17 and 25, and NHL highs of 91 goals and 3.96 per game during an 8-12-3 skid since March 6. Carter Hart is 3-7-2 with a 3.85 goals-against average and .855 save percentage in that stretch and 9-11-5 with a 3.67 GAA, .877 save percentage and one shutout in 27 games (25 starts) this season.

Brian Elliott is 5-5-1 with a 3.68 GAA and .857 save percentage during the tailspin. He gave up all six goals to the Capitals on Tuesday and 16 in three starts against them this season. He’s 11-6-1 with a 3.04 GAA, .888 save percentage and two shutouts in 22 games (18 starts).

One of the problems that has contributed to the poor goaltending is penalty killing, where the Flyers are 29th in the NHL (73.9 percent).

Mantha fitting in

Anthony Mantha has scored a goal in each of his first two games with the Capitals after the 26-year-old forward was traded to Washington by the Detroit Red Wings on Monday for two draft picks and forwards Jakub Vrana and Richard Panik

Mantha’s production (24 points; 13 goals, 11 assists in 44 games) is down from the 38 points (16 goals, 22 assists) he scored in 43 games last season that was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. The Capitals are hoping he can contribute playing in a supporting role.

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