The Flyers will go back to a 12-forward lineup when they host powerful Washington on Thursday night.
They recalled right winger Justin Bailey from the Phantoms, and he will be on the fourth line.
In Monday’s 3-2 win over Ottawa, the Flyers went with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, including Andrew MacDonald, who will be a healthy scratch Thursday.
The Flyers are five points out of a playoff spot with 13 games left and are in a virtual must-win situation the rest of the way.
“This is probably as close to being in the playoffs as actually being in,” interim coach Scott Gordon said about the magnitude of the remaining games. “They’re all Games 7s, really. Or pretty close to it.”
After Thursday, the Flyers will play in Toronto on Friday and in Pittsburgh on Sunday. That’s three straight games against high-quality opponents.
Rookie Oskar Lindblom will take Jake Voracek’s spot on the first power-play unit Thursday. Voracek will sit out the second game of his two-game suspension.
Here is the Flyers’ projected lineup:
· Sean Couturier centering Lindblom and Claude Giroux.
· Nolan Patrick centering James van Riemsdyk and Travis Konecny.
· Scott Laughton centering Michael Raffl and Ryan Hartman.
· Corban Knight centering Phil Varone and Bailey.
· Defensive pairings: Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim; Robert Hagg and Radko Gudas; Shayne Gostisbehere and Phil Myers.
· Goalie: Carter Hart.
Hart, a 20-year-old rookie, will make his first appearance since he was shelled in a 5-1 loss in Montreal on Feb. 21. He has been sidelined by an ankle injury.
Hart will face his good friend, Braden Holtby, who is having a mediocre season: a 26-17-4 record with a 2.91 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.
In 22 games, Hart is 13-8-1 with a 2.79 GAA and .917 save percentage. In his last two starts before he was sidelined, he allowed three goals on nine shots and was removed midway through the first period in each.
Holtby and Hart use the same sports psychologist, John Stevenson.
This will be Hart’s first career game against Alex Ovechkin and Co.
Holtby is 10-4-8 with a 2.54 GAA and .915 save percentage against the Flyers. He is one shutout away from passing Olie Kolzig (35 shutouts) for the most in franchise history.