Capitals ready to test young Flyers veteran Elliott

NHL Hockey
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The Philadelphia Flyers will go for a second straight victory in Eastern Conference round-robin action while the Washington Capitals try to bounce back from a tough shootout loss when they meet Thursday in Toronto.

The Flyers broke their first game open with a three-goal second period to top Boston 4-1 on Sunday. Michael Raffl led the way with a goal and an assist.

But the key player might have been young goalie Carter Hart, who finished with 34 saves to become the youngest Flyers goalie to win a postseason game. Pete Peeters had the previous mark — and that stood for 40 years.

“I know I’ve been here a short time, but he doesn’t look 21 to me,” said Flyers forward Nate Thompson, who was acquired in February. “He’s pretty poised, even off the ice. He carries himself well beyond his years. He’s a true pro. He reminds me a little bit of a goalie I used to play with in Montreal (Carey Price). He’s our backbone and he was really good tonight for us.”

Hart won’t start in goal Thursday as 35-year-old Brian Elliott will get the call.

“We have a lot of confidence and faith in both of our goaltenders,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said in a video call with reporters Wednesday. “… I said he (Elliott) was going to get a game in, and I feel tomorrow is the right time.”

Philadelphia has two points after the first game while Washington got just one thanks to a 3-2 shootout loss to Tampa Bay on Monday. The playoff seeding will be determined by the round-robin points, with regular-season points percentage as the tiebreaker if needed.

The Capitals rallied from a 2-0 deficit versus the Lightning and forced the game into a shootout where they took a 1-0 lead in the first round. T.J. Oshie scored on Washington’s first shot but the Lightning beat goalie Braden Holtby twice in a row to pull out the victory.

Holtby made 26 saves for Washington before making one on three shots in the shootout.

“We weren’t expecting perfection this game, but I think the important part is, the first part of periods they got some action and we didn’t panic,” Holtby said to NHL.com. “We righted the ship. I think that’s important. … They come in waves. They always have, and you just weather the storm there and then wait for your opportunity to get in and be physical and grind them down, and it showed in the two goals.”

Richard Panik and Evgeny Kuznetsov each scored once for Washington in the second period.

The Capitals had to play without top scorer John Carlson in the first game. After leaving the team’s last exhibition game with an undisclosed injury, the defenseman watched the loss to the Lightning from the stands.

Not having Carlson hurt because he led the team in assists (60) and points (75) this season. His situation remains uncertain for this game, but Washington wants him back because of what he pumps into the offense.

Each team will play one more round-robin game after this one. Philadelphia faces Tampa Bay on Saturday, while Washington plays Boston on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

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