Flyers-Capitals Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 01, 2013

PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 02: Head coach Peter Laviolette of the Philadelphia Flyers attends a press conference after the Flyers defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 in overtime in Game Three of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Wachovia Center on June 2, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
While the Philadelphia Flyers haven't been able to generate much offense, coach Peter Laviolette is hoping a tweak to his top line will help do the trick. The Eastern Conference-worst Washington Capitals could surely use some change. Hoping to avoid a third consecutive loss, the Flyers conclude a four-game road trip Friday night seeking a fourth straight win over the Capitals. After following up an 0-3-0 start with back-to-back wins, Philadelphia's woes resumed in its last two games. The Flyers (2-5-0) couldn't keep up in Sunday's 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay, then suffered a 2-1 defeat to the New York Rangers two nights later. Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves, dropping to 2-4-0 despite a 2.19 goals-against average. Kimmo Timonen, meanwhile, provided the team's lone goal, scoring 7:09 into the third period as Philadelphia scored one or less for the fourth time in seven games. The power play hasn't been much help to the struggling offense, converting 5 of 37 overall and 2 of 27 during the losses. "It's like a pitcher who goes out on the mound and doesn't get the run support he needs to win a game," Laviolette told the team's official website. "I feel like there are some areas we can be better in that can help our team be more successful." Danny Briere's move to the top line could help the Flyers do just that. Laviolette made the change after Briere, who matched a regular-season career high with 10 shots Tuesday, impressed while skating alongside Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds in the third period. "It's a nice compliment," Laviolette said of putting Briere and Giroux together. "One guy sees the ice really well and the other knows how to put the puck in the net. I think a lot of players want to play with Claude because of how he sees the ice and makes plays, then you have a natural goal scorer in Danny … it could be a good fit." While the Flyers are optimistic about getting things turned around, frustrations are likely starting to take their toll on the Capitals (1-5-1), who blew two one-goal leads Thursday in a 3-2 loss at Toronto. Joel Ward and Alex Ovechkin both scored but Washington was outshot 40-22. "It was the early penalties that cost us," said coach Adam Oates, whose team killed seven of eight penalties. "You spend so much energy killing penalties, you lose some of your juice later in the game." Michal Neuvirth made 37 saves Thursday, falling to 1-3-1 with a 2.98 GAA. He's 1-1-1 with a 2.88 GAA lifetime versus Philadelphia. Braden Holtby is 1-0-1 with a 1.43 GAA in two career matchups against the Flyers. Bryzgalov has allowed a combined two goals while starting each of the last three games in this series, including a 34-save shutout during Philadelphia's most recent visit to Washington on March 4. The Flyers are 5-1-1 in their last seven matchups against the Capitals, but four of those wins have come by one goal. Veteran forward Mike Knuble, who signed with Philadelphia last week after spending the previous three seasons with Washington, has one assist in three games since debuting Saturday. Ovechkin has 23 goals and 15 assists in 26 career contests against the Flyers. Giroux has scored in five of his last meetings with the Capitals, adding one assist.
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