Capitals-Flyers Preview

The Philadelphia Flyers have trailed by at least two goals in five of their past six games. They are hoping the return of a familiar face can provide a spark. A day after being re-acquired, Simon Gagne will try to begin revitalizing his career and the Flyers' season Wednesday night when they face the Washington Capitals. Philadelphia (9-11-1) has split its last six games despite its spate of recent slow starts. While they rallied for victories against Pittsburgh and Winnipeg, the Flyers were unable to erase a two-goal, second-period deficit Monday, falling 4-2 to Toronto. "It's been talked about too many times," left wing Scott Hartnell said. "It's got to change fast. We can't get down 2-0 every game and expect to win." Perhaps having Gagne back can provide a lift for a club that is below the postseason cutoff in the Eastern Conference. The left wing was acquired in a trade from Los Angeles on Tuesday in exchange for a conditional draft pick. Gagne spent his first 10 seasons with the Flyers, scoring 259 goals with 265 assists in 664 games before being dealt to Tampa Bay for the 2010-11 season. He signed with the Kings prior to last season, but was ineffective while struggling with injuries, including a concussion. Still, he returned to help them win the Stanley Cup. Gagne has five assists in 11 games this year, but injuries to forwards Matt Read (torn ribcage muscles) and Tye McGinn (broken orbital bone) prompted Philadelphia to re-acquire the two-time All-Star. Gagne had 12 goals and 10 assists in 18 meetings versus Washington in Philadelphia. "He improves our depth up front automatically," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "He is a good two-way player that can skate. ... Coaches have watched tape of him playing, so we feel comfortable that he is fine. He seems excited to be coming back, and looks forward to an opportunity to play and help us." Hartnell could also help if he can find the net with some regularity after scoring for the first time against the Maple Leafs. He's been limited to five games due to a broken left foot. Hartnell, though, has four goals and three assists in 13 career home matchups with the Capitals, and he missed the latest matchup Feb. 1, a 3-2 loss in Washington. The Flyers may draw some inspiration from the Capitals, who have won five of seven after winning just two of their first 11. Washington, which continued its resurgence with a 3-0 win Tuesday over Carolina, is still at the bottom of the Southeast Division, but just four points behind the three-way tie for first among the Hurricanes, Tampa Bay and Winnipeg. "We knew it was going to come around like this," said goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 33 saves for his fifth career shutout a day after signing a two-year contract extension. "So we were just being patient, learning what we needed to do, learning from our mistakes, and you can just see we're doing a good job." Mike Ribeiro is looking to continue his outstanding play after getting an assist Tuesday. The center has five goals and nine assists over the past 10 games, managing at least a point in nine of them while getting seven on the power play. Ribeiro has six points in his last six visits to Philadelphia, while Alexander Ovechkin has 14 goals and nine assists in 15 games there, including the playoffs. Ovechkin enters this meeting with five points in two games after posting a hat trick in Saturday's 5-1 win over New Jersey.