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PREVIEW: Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals each seek bounce-back win

Feb 28, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Sam Reinhart (23) looks to block a shot by Philadelphia Flyers left wing Joel Farabee (86) during the third period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 28, 2021; Buffalo, New York, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Sam Reinhart (23) looks to block a shot by Philadelphia Flyers left wing Joel Farabee (86) during the third period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers will look to rebound from a tough, one-goal loss when they play host the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

It will be the first of three games in seven days between the two teams.

Philadelphia will receive a boost as fans will be admitted into a Flyers home game for the first time since March 10, 2020. About 3,100 fans, or 15 percent capacity, are expected.

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“It’s been a while,” said winger Joel Farabee. “It’s nice to have them back.”

The Flyers weren’t able to hold a 3-2 lead and fell 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, as Jared McCann’s goal for Pittsburgh midway through the third period proved to be the difference.

Shayne Gostisbehere, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny each scored for the Flyers. Backup goalie Brian Elliott made 23 saves.

Carter Hart will start in goal for the Flyers on Sunday.

“They made us pay on a couple of our mistakes and we were right there,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “But we made one mistake too many that cost us the game.”

Farabee, whose 10 goals are tied for the team lead with James van Riemsdyk, played nearly 18 minutes after missing Thursday’s game while in COVID-19 protocol.

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“I mean, obviously, we want to come in here and sweep all three games, but it’s a pretty tough league,” Farabee said of losing two of three to the Penguins. “They’re a really good team. I thought we gave a pretty good effort. I thought that third period could’ve went either way. We have some things to clean up.”

Jakub Voracek registered the 500th assist of his career on Saturday.

In their most recent game, the Capitals were throttled 5-1 by the Boston Bruins on Friday, ending their four-game winning streak.

Washington’s defense, which had been quite stingy, struggled against the Bruins’ high-powered offense.

“Where we got outdone tonight was from a defensive standpoint there were just too many quality chances,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “There were too many backdoor tap-ins, backdoor plays, where we could’ve done something better defensively and our goaltenders really had no chance at a lot of what went on. So for me, you’ve got to play good defense. You’ve got to take care of things.”

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It’s unclear if the Capitals will have right winger Tom Wilson available against the Flyers. Wilson, who has already been suspended four times in his career, may face a suspension for a potentially reckless hit against Boston’s Brandon Carlo.

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Saturday that Wilson has been asked to participate in a hearing via Zoom at a time still to be determined. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, hearings have been held by phone, and ESPN said the offer for a face-to-face hearing indicated Wilson could be looking at a suspension of six or more games.

“His feet were on the ice. He stayed down with everything,” Laviolette said. “It just looked like a hard hit in the corner. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but to me it looked like just a hit.”

The lone bright spot that came out of the four-goal loss was the play of Nicklas Backstrom, who recorded his 700th career assist. He became the 54th player in league history to accomplish the feat.

“I said I was going to enjoy it and here we are, losing 5-1,” Backstrom said. “It’s tough when you lose a game like this and the way we played too. Hopefully, we can get a win next game so I can think about it more.”

–Field Level Media