The Washington Capitals are hoping new acquisitions Jaroslav Halak and Dustin Penner can bolster their playoff chances.
The Philadelphia Flyers may feel their move can solidify a return to the postseason.
Fortified with a new goaltender and forward, the Capitals attempt for a split of a home-and-home set with the surging Flyers in a matchup of Metropolitan Division rivals on Wednesday night.
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Trying to avoid missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2007, the Capitals (29-23-10), who sit just outside the Eastern Conference playoff picture, made several moves before Wednesday’s trade deadline.
First, they acquired Penner from Anaheim on Tuesday for a fourth-round pick, while also sending forwards Martin Erat and John Mitchell to Phoenix for forward Chris Brown, defenseman Rostislav Klesla and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick.
Then just before the deadline, they added Halak from Buffalo – which had just acquired him from St. Louis on Friday – for backup goalie Michal Neuvirth and Klesla. The Capitals also received a 2015 third-round draft pick in the deal with the Sabres.
Brown is expected to report to Hershey of the AHL, but Penner could find himself on the Capitals’ top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. He’s expected to add some scoring depth to a team that relies heavily on Ovechkin, the league leader with 43 goals – 25 more than the next member of the Capitals.
Penner, scheduled to be a free agent after the season, has 13 goals and 19 assists in 49 games.
"It’s a good challenge for me personally," Penner told the team’s official website. "I look forward to coming and hopefully adding something that they were looking for to help make the push to the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup."
Halak will be expected to solidify a sometimes-shaky goaltending situation, as the Capitals’ 2.82 goals-against average is toward the bottom of the league. He is 24-9-4 with a 2.23 GAA on the season.
Andrew MacDonald surely also feels optimistic about joining the Flyers (32-24-6), who acquired him from the New York Islanders on Tuesday for a pair of draft picks and a minor leaguer. He has four goals and 20 assists, and joins former Islanders teammate and fellow defenseman Mark Streit.
"He’s a good all-around defenseman," Streit told the league’s official website. "He plays really well defensively, blocks a lot of shots and has a really good first pass, and obviously got some offense as well.
"It’s a really good mix and he’s a great guy in the room, too."
Philadelphia has been superb while winning six of seven February games, averaging 3.43 goals compared to 2.67 in the season’s first four months.
The Flyers erased a two-goal, third-period deficit before winning 5-4 in overtime at Washington on Sunday. Jakub Voracek got the rally started by scoring on a power play created when defenseman Dmitry Orlov was whistled for a major boarding penalty for hitting Brayden Schenn.
Orlov, who was retaliating for an earlier hit by Schenn, was suspended for two games and fined $7,076.92 in salary.
"(The Flyers) are going to try to intimidate you and we just needed to play our game," right wing Eric Fehr said. "That’s not the style we play. We don’t try to intimidate teams. We try to out-skill teams, out-work teams and try to score goals that way. We have to stick to our game plan and not get baited into theirs."
The Capitals could also use some production from Ovechkin, who didn’t get a point and was a minus-3 Sunday. He has 16 goals and nine assists in 18 career visits to Philadelphia, including the playoffs.
He had a goal there Dec. 17, but Washington fell 5-2 after allowing four unanswered goals.
Voracek scored a pair in that meeting, and has four goals and two assists in four games in the season series.
Claude Giroux also had three points Sunday, giving him seven goals and eight assists over the past 10 games. The captain has scored 10 times with seven assists in his past 13 meetings with Washington.
The Flyers traded defenseman Andrej Meszaros to Boston on Wednesday for a 2014 third-round draft choice.