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Flyers’ Challenge: Stopping Ovi (Again), Climbing to .500



Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals,

The Philadelphia Flyers will try to sweep the home-and-home series with Washington when they play Saturday night in D.C.

Good luck with that.

Yes, the Flyers are surging, winning six of their last seven games. And, yes, they are coming off an impressive 5-3 win Wednesday over the Capitals.

But Washington hasn’t lost two straight in regulation since Nov. 13-15. The Caps have won 13 of their last 18 games.

Plus they have the revenge factor on their side as they try to rebound from a game in which the Flyers allowed just one goal, total, to Washington’s top three lines.

The Capitals, of course, are led by superstar Alex Ovechkin, who was kept off the scoresheet by Noah Cates and Co. in Wednesday’s matchup. The Great 8 had nine shot attempts (six on goal) but failed to collect his 810th career goal. Carter Hart stoned him on a first-period breakaway.

In franchise history, the Flyers are 16-6-2 against Washington when Ovechkin fails to get a point.

The line of Cates, Joel Farabee, and Travis Konecny frequently faced Ovechkin and his linemates Wednesday.

“They’re definitely a tough line to match up with,” Cates said.

In addition to Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov “is pretty skilled offensively, and they’re very creative and hard to defend,” Cates said. ” … Being harder down low is probably the biggest thing (defensively).”

Trying to reach .500

The Flyers (17-18-7) will be trying to get to “hockey .500” for the first time since they were 7-7-4 on Nov. 19.

“We obviously see the standings. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t see them,” center Morgan Frost said. “But we’re just focused on trying to win games and keep getting better. I think we’ve done a good job with that.”

While the Flyers will be trying to contain left winger Ovechkin, the Caps will have their hands full with Konecny, the Philadelphia Flyers’ sizzling right winger.

Konecny has a career-best 10-game point streak; he has 12 goals in that span, including his second career hat trick in Wednesday’s victory.

Ersson returning?

John Tortorella wouldn’t announce his goalie for Saturday, but there’s a decent chance Sam Ersson gets the call. Hart started Wednesday.

After a shaky NHL debut, Ersson (4-0) has a .947 save percentage in his last four starts, all wins.

If he does play Saturday, Ersson said he would enjoy the challenge of facing Ovechkin.

“He’s possibly the greatest goal scorer ever,” Ersson said. “You have to know when he’s on the ice. He’ someone you’re excited to play against.”


Philly allowed the Caps just one power play Wednesday; the Flyers had six. … The Flyers have outshot their last five opponents. … Elliot Desnoyers and Artem Anisimov lead the Phantoms (16-13-4) with 12 goals apiece. Olle Lycksel (22 points) and Tyson Foerster (21) are the team’s top scorers. … Felix Sandstrom (2-0-1) has a 2.27 GAA and .922 save percentage in three games with Lehigh Valley since going to the AHL on a conditioning stint.

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