|Flyers host Capitals in key Metropolitan clash|
Alex Ovechkin did not score in the last two games for the Washington Capitals and the Philadelphia Flyers are hoping to keep him off the scoresheet.
The Flyers are also hoping to keep the rest of the Capitals from scoring goals in bunches.
If host Philadelphia can do so Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, it can inch closer to the first-place Capitals in the Metropolitan Division.
Washington (41-23-7) leads the division with 89 points. The Capitals are two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and six ahead of Philadelphia (36-25-11) and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Capitals have 11 games remaining while the Flyers are down to their final 10 contests. Washington is on a four-game winning streak after outscoring the New York Islanders 13-6 in a home-and-home sweep Thursday and Friday.
Nine players scored goals in the wins over the Islanders. Ovechkin's contributions were the primary assist on Washington's sixth goal Thursday and the primary assist on T.J. Oshie's power-play goal in the first period Friday.
"It's very important to have balance. I don't think anyone here is worried about (Ovechkin) not scoring, but it is good we have other guys stepping up," Oshie said after scoring his third goal in two games after a 19-game drought. "That's important. We want confidence throughout the lineup offensively going into the postseason."
One player who will not be scoring any goals is center Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov, who leads the Capitals with 50 assists and has seven points in his last three games, is not expected to play because of an upper-body injury.
Ovechkin's last goal was his 600th during the second period of Monday's 3-2 overtime victory over the Winnipeg Jets. When he gets his next goal, Ovechkin will tie Hall of Famer Jari Kurri for 19th place on the all-time list.
Given their precarious position and aspirations to close the gap on the Capitals, Philadelphia is hoping it does not occur Sunday.
Besides being within six points of the division lead, the Flyers (36-25-11) are also tied with Columbus in points, though they own the tiebreaker with the Blue Jackets. Philadelphia is also one point ahead of the New Jersey Devils, who are on a three-game winning streak heading into their Sunday night game at Anaheim.
The Flyers are in this situation because they are 2-6-1 in their last nine games since winning six straight from Feb. 11-26. The winning streak was part of a 10-0-2 stretch last month.
Philadelphia rebounded from home losses to the Vegas Golden Knights and Columbus Blue Jackets by scoring four times in the third period to get a 4-2 win at Carolina on Saturday.
The Flyers scored three times in a span of 5:52, getting goals from Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek before Valtteri Filppula netted the tiebreaking goal on a breakaway.
"Just to be able to stay with it through the third period and get it done says a lot for our group," Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol told reporters. "We needed a win for a lot of different reasons. We needed the two points in every respect."
"Every game has been pretty close, but we've been losing games," Filppula told reporters. "This should give us a lot of confidence."
Voracek scored his fourth goal since Philadelphia's winning streak ended March 1. Claude Giroux did not score but also has four goals in his last eight games.
The Flyers will likely attempt to get the two points by beating Braden Holtby. Holtby made 22 saves Friday and won for the second time in nine appearances.
"I feel a lot better," Holtby told reporters after sitting out the previous four games. "Not that I was feeling horrible before. You get refreshed from a week off work."
Alex Lyon made 23 saves Saturday, but Petr Mrazek is likely to start Sunday. Mrazek is 4-5-1 with a 3.15 goals-against average and .887 save percentage in 10 games since Philadelphia acquired him from the Detroit Red Wings just before last month's trade deadline.
Philadelphia won the first two meetings by a combined 10-3 margin before dropping a 5-3 decision at Washington on Jan. 31.
Giroux posted a four-point night in Philadelphia's 8-2 home win Oct. 14 and Konecny scored the game-winner in overtime in a 2-1 win at Washington on Jan. 21. Oshie netted the tiebreaking power-play goal in Washington's win and it was his last goal before Thursday.