Nittymaki is being forced into action because both Robert Esche (sprained left knee) and Jeff Hackett (vertigo) are not available. The 23-year-old is a second-year pro out of Finland. In 29 games with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League, he has a 14-7-5 mark with a 2.14 goals-against average.
Injured in Monday’s 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay, Esche underwent an MRI on Tuesday that revealed a Grade 2 sprain of the medial collateral ligament. He is expected to miss at least three weeks.
“You have to play hard no matter who’s in goal,” Flyers center Jeremy Roenick said. “This is a chance for a young kid to make a statement. We should appreciate that and give him all the opportunity we can to let him make a big splash.”
Holding a one-point lead over the New Jersey Devils in the Atlantic Division, the Flyers had their five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) snapped with Monday’s loss to the Lightning.
Although they’re missing their top two goalies, the Flyers have some good news regarding their roster. Right win Tony Amonte returned Monday after missing two games because of a sprained right knee, and Claude Lapointe was cleared to return by the NHL on Tuesday after a month in the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.
The Capitals, last in the Southeast Division, have won three of four, including Tuesday’s 2-1 win over the Lightning. Anson Carter scored his first goal since returning to Washington and Maxime Ouellet made 38 saves.
“I’ve got a lot of pride, and I want to come here and help the Caps get back in the playoffs,” said Carter, who last played for Washington in 1997. “Just because you get traded for a guy making a lot of money doesn’t mean you’re going to forfeit anything.”
Ouellet, recalled from Portland of the AHL on Monday, made his first start for the Capitals since Jan. 4. His other victory was a 5-0 shutout at Atlanta on Dec. 16.