After three days of build-up and a little bit of trash talk, the Capitals and Flyers are set to butt helmets tonight at Verizon Center in Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series.
Catch all of the pregame action, beginning with our Facebook Live show from Penn Quarter Sports Tavern today at 3 p.m., followed by Pregame Live on CSN at 6 p.m., and a YouNow chat at 6:30. The puck will drop shortly after 7 p.m. on CSN.
The Capitals are seeking their first-ever Stanley Cup, while the Flyers are looking for their first championship since 1974-75, the same season the Caps entered the NHL.
The Caps went 2-0-2 against the Flyers in the season series. Here’s a quick look at those four games, followed by a look at their playoff history:
Nov. 12 – Capitals 5, Flyers 2 at Wells Fargo Center:
The Flyers took leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but the Caps responded with four unanswered goals to take a 5-2 win. Scott Laughton opened the scoring 3:34 into the contest, providing a 1-0 lead that was matched on a goal from T.J. Oshie seven minutes later. Claude Giroux then gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead with a power play goal 1:07 into the second. But the Flyers couldn’t get anything else past Braden Holtby, and the Caps added three goals in the second and one in the third. Two came on power-play snipes from Jason Chimera, who made his season debut on the man-advantage. Steve Mason stopped 27 of 32 shots, while Holtby turned aside 18 of 20. Stars of the Game: 1 – Jason Chimera; 2 – Justin Williams; 3 – Scott Laughton.
Quote of the night: “We weren’t playing that soft perimeter game. We were getting into the inside and winning battles. When you start winning more battles you take over the game.” – Caps coach Barry Trotz
Jan. 27 – Flyers 4, Capitals 3 (OT) at Verizon Center:
With the Caps playing their first game in eight days because of a snowstorm that wiped out two games, Jake Voracek scored less than a minute into overtime to boost the Flyers past the first-place Capitals. The Flyers never trailed in the game, going up 2-0 after one period on goals by Brayden Schenn and Ryan White. The Capitals tied it on two goals in less than a minute in the second period, from Andre Burakovsky and Nicklas Backstrom, but then Voracek restored a one-goal lead on a goal off a faceoff with 2:21 left in the period. After Burakovsky scored his second of the game 3:55 into the third to make it 3-3, the game went to overtime, which only lasted 38 seconds before Voracek’s winner. Michal Neuvirth started against his former team for the first time and made 27 saves, while Braden Holtby turned aside 28 of 32. Stars of the Game: 1 – Jake Voracek; 2 – Andre Burakovsky; 3 – Nicklas Backstrom.
Quote of the night: “It was a bit rusty in the beginning here, passes and how the gear felt and everything. I think we came out pretty slow and couldn’t really get anything going.” – Caps left win Andre Burakovsky
Feb. 7 – Capitals 3, Flyers 2 at Verizon Center:
Matt Niskanen weaved through five Flyers with a third-period goal rush to snap a 2-2 tie and give the Capitals the victory over the Flyers. Philadelphia scored first for the 12th time in their last 14 games when Michael Del Zotto fired home a shot from the point late in the first period. The lead held until the Caps picked up two goals in 1:09 late in the second, one from Alex Ovechkin and one from Dimitry Orlov. Nick Schultz scored 51 seconds into the third period to tie the game again, but Niskanen’s solo effort at 5:24 of the third held up after the Flyers couldn’t solve Braden Holtby the rest of the way. He ended up with 33 saves on 35 shots, while Steve Mason stopped 27 of 30 in the loss. Stars of the Game: 1 – Matt Niskanen; 2 – Braden Holtby; 3 – Michael Del Zotto.
Quote of the night: “It was like back to the 70s with Bobby Orr.” – Alex Ovechkin on Niskanen’s game winner
March 30 – Flyers 2, Capitals 1 (SO) at Wells Fargo Center:
Brayden Schenn tipped home the game-tying goal in the third period and the Flyers went on to defeat the Capitals 2-1 in a shootout. The game was scoreless until Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead with a goal 1:28 into the third period that came at the moment a Flyers penalty expired. But with 5:28 to play and the Flyers on a man advantage, Schenn redirected a Claude Giroux slapshot from the left side boards to knot the score. The Flyers killed off a penalty in overtime and then took things to the shootout, where Nick Cousins and Sam Gagner scored opposite two saves from Steve Mason. Mason took the win with 29 saves, while Braden Holtby stopped 33. Stars of the Game: 1 – Braden Holtby; 2 – Sam Gagner; 3 – Steve Mason.
Quote of the night: “I knew that wasn’t going to get called. It’s clear interference and they never call that, even when it should be. So I was just trying to stick up for myself.” – Holtby on retaliating against Sean Couturier for crashing into his net
CAPITALS-FLYERS PLAYOFF HISTORY
This is the fifth playoff series between the Caps and Flyers and first since 2008. Each team has two series wins and two series losses.
1984 Patrick Division Semifinals – Capitals win series 3-0
The 1983-84 season was the end of one era and a transition to a new one for the Flyers, as Bill Barber and Bobby Clarke played the final season of their careers while Tim Kerr posted his first of four consecutive 50-goal seasons. At that point the NHL still played the first round as a best-of-five series, which the Capitals won 3-0.
1988 Patrick Division Semifinals – Capitals win series 4-3
The Flyers were coming off a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1987 but had to fight their way through an injury-marred season to a date with the Capitals in the first round. The Flyers took a 3-1 series lead, but Capitals came back to force a Game 7 and then erased a 3-0 deficit on its way to a 5-4 overtime win in what was designated the best game in Capitals franchise history in a 2010 DVD release. The Caps went on to lose to the New Jersey Devils in the divisional finals.
1989 Patrick Division Semifinals – Flyers win series 4-2
The following season the Flyers had a new look with a couple current connections – Paul Holmgren, now the president of the team, was in his first season as head coach, while current assistant coach Gord Murphy played his rookie season. The Flyers finished fourth in the Patrick Division with 82 points and took on the division-champion Caps, who finished second in the conference with 92 points. The Flyers dropped Game 1 and Game 3, but went on to win three in a row to take the series in six games. Fifteen of the Flyers’ 24 goals in the series were scored by the trio of Tim Kerr, Brian Propp and Rick Tocchet, while current Flyers GM Ron Hextall became the first goaltender to score a goal in the playoffs when he found an empty net in Game 5. The Flyers then eliminated Pittsburgh to reach the Wales Conference Finals, which they lost to Montreal in six games.
2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals – Flyers win series 4-3
The Flyers bounced back from the worst season in their history in 2006-07 to post a 95-point campaign and earn the sixth seed in the East and a matchup with Capitals, which actually had one fewer point in the regular season than the Flyers but earned the third seed by winning the Southeast Division. The Flyers went up 3-1 in the series, but the Caps charged back and forced a Game 7 that required overtime to decide. The Flyers won it on a power play goal by Joffrey Lupul just over six minutes into the first OT period. Lupul later admitted his stick was broken just before he netted the game winner. From there, the Flyers took out top-seeded Montreal before falling to Pittsburgh in five games in the conference finals.