|Capitals bring two-game skid into game with hot Flyers|
WASHINGTON -- Maybe the Washington Capitals got a little too comfortable during their league-mandated five-day break. The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping to take advantage.
"If you've watched us play lately, we've gone a bit stale," Capitals coach Barry Trotz told reporters after Saturday's morning skate.
Washington is looking to avoid a three-game losing streak when it hosts Philadelphia on Sunday in a showdown between the Metropolitan Division rivals. The Capitals are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, marking the first time they've dropped two straight at home since October.
"The last couple of games, we haven't made it tough on the opposition. I don't know if it's the break, but even before the break, I've been contemplating that maybe it's time for a little switch," Trotz said. "Eighty-two games -- teams have lulls in the way they play and how they play."
On the other hand, the Flyers are rolling after a 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, giving Philadelphia six wins in its last seven games to get back into the playoff picture, one point out of a wild-card spot.
"It's definitely more fun to be in a position that you're in the playoffs," Flyers forward Valtteri Filppula told reporters after the game. "At the same time, if you make the playoffs now, you're going to be more prepared.
"You've played a lot of those kinds of games already when you're not in a must-win, but wins are really important. It keeps us focused and in the long run, if we make the playoffs, it's going to help us out."
Leading the way has been Sean Couturier, who has 11 goals in his last 13 games. His solid play has also helped pay dividends for Travis Konecny, who has nine points (three goals) in his last 11 games since being shifted to the top line alongside Couturier and center Claude Giroux.
"We played a really strong game," Konecny said after recording a goal and an assist against the Devils. "We came out really hot, and that's what we need to keep doing. It makes it a lot easier when you're playing ahead."
The Capitals made some moves in order to shake the doldrums, moving forward Andre Burakovsky to a top-six position after he struggled during the early part of the season.
"I think I've been trying to stick with it when I was a healthy scratch and on the fourth line," Burakovsky told the team's website. "I was trying to learn from the mistakes. Just stay positive and work hard every day and now I'm back in the top six."
Braden Holtby figures to get the nod between the pipes for the Capitals. The Flyers may keep the hot hand in net as Michal Neuvirth has won his last two starts in place of Brian Elliott.
"You don't have to think about the little things," Neuvirth said of getting increased playing time. "You just do it automatically. For us, it's going to be huge games the rest of the season."
This is the second meeting of the season. Philadelphia routed Washington 8-2 on Oct. 14. The teams meet again on Jan. 31 in Washington.