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Hot Flyers, hotter Capitals will meet as Matt Niskanen and Radko Gudas face their former teams

The two teams will meet Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Matt Niskanen (right), going after the puck against Montreal's Paul Byron, has been one of the Flyers' best defensemen.
Matt Niskanen (right), going after the puck against Montreal's Paul Byron, has been one of the Flyers' best defensemen.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Flyers are hot. The Washington Capitals are hotter. The teams will bring long point streaks into their matchup Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

It will be the first meeting between the teams since the Flyers dealt Radko Gudas to the Capitals for Matt Niskanen in June.

Gudas spent four years with the Flyers and was the winner of the Barry Ashbee Trophy as their best defenseman last season. Known for his physicality, he has five assists and a plus-9 rating in 19 games with the Caps.

“He was a great guy, a great teammate,” Flyers center Sean Couturier said after Tuesday’s practice in Voorhees. “It’s going to be different playing against him.”

He smiled.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to keep our head up; we know what he’s capable to do,” he added. “It’s going to be a good matchup.”

Niskanen, who won a Stanley Cup during his five years in Washington, has been arguably the Flyers’ most consistent defenseman. He has eight points in 17 games and a plus-1 rating, and he has helped their special teams improve.

The veteran defenseman talked to Flyers coaches and teammates and gave “a tip here or there” about the Capitals.

“I’m guessing it’s going to feel weird when I see them on the other side for warmups,” Niskanen said.

The Flyers, (10-5-2), coming off an impressive road sweep of Toronto and Boston during the weekend, will need another gargantuan effort to extend their four-game winning streak. And even that might not be enough to knock off the NHL’s best team. The Capitals have a 12-game point streak (10-0-2).

“We’ve got quite a task ahead of us,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “Not only are they playing extremely well, but they’re a team that knows how to win. I’m looking forward to this game. It’s going to be a good matchup for us. We’re playing some good hockey lately. We’ll be tested, and I’m anxious to see how we’re going to respond.”

Led by Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals (13-2-4) are the NHL’s highest-scoring team, averaging four goals. They are also a ridiculous 8-1-1 on the road.

“They have a lot of players who can make a difference,” captain Claude Giroux said. “They’ve played a lot of hockey the last three years or so, and they play a great team game. They’re pretty responsible, and they make plays that some teams’ players wouldn’t try to make.”

The Flyers, with their young players showing the way, also have been soaring lately, putting together a six-game point streak.

“We need to be able to play the game we’ve been playing,” Giroux said. “We’re playing as a team. … We just follow the structure of the team and don’t try to do our own thing. We’ve got everybody playing well. Every game, different guys are stepping up, and that’s what you need.”

The Caps are coming off Sunday’s 4-3 shootout loss to visiting Arizona in which they came back from a 3-0 deficit.


Carter Hart will make his fourth start in the last five games for the Flyers. … In their last 11-plus games, Flyers penalty killers have been successful on 28 of 30 attempts (93.3%). … Vigneault praised the fourth line of Andy Andreoff, Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick. “They played in the 10- to 13-minute range [in the weekend wins] and were effective minutes for us, and when you play four games in six nights, you need to play four lines and we were able to do that,” he said.