NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, February 21st (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (4-7-4) at Philadelphia Flyers (8-9-1), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - After finishing off their road trip with two big victories, the Philadelphia Flyers will try to post their first three-game winning streak of the season as they return home to battle the Florida Panthers.
The Flyers seemed in trouble of letting the season slip away from them as they lost three of four to begin their six-game swing, but got a big effort from captain Claude Giroux and winger Jakub Voracek in a 7-0 win over the New Islanders on Monday.
Philadelphia then visited the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night and won an entertaining 6-5 game thanks to Voracek's game-winning goal with 1:31 left in regulation.
Voracek's winner finished off his first career hat trick and came only 32 seconds after the Penguins had tied the game. The forward sent a sharp angle try from the goal line on Pittsburgh netminder Tomas Vokoun that snuck through.
"I was just trying to throw it at the net so someone could get a rebound," said Voracek, who has eight points over his last three games. "But it took a lucky bounce and I'll take it."
Wayne Simmonds added two goals, an assist and a fighting major for the "Gordie Howe hat trick" and Nicklas Grossman potted a goal as the Flyers battled back from down 2-0 in the first period with four straight goals.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 27 saves.
"Any time you finish the road trip like that with two big wins it's huge," said Giroux, who had two assists. "Not just the win, just the way we're playing. We're happy with the way we're playing. Obviously we have a lot of things to work on."
Philadelphia is now set to play five straight at home, where it is 4-1-1 this season, but could be without forward Matt Read. The club's leading goal-scorer with seven left Wednesday's game after the first period with an upper body injury and did not return.
The Panthers come into this contest riding a five-game slide (0-3-2) and are set to play back-to-back games in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh following a winless four-game homestand.
Florida has been shut out three times over its skid, including Monday's 3-0 setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Jose Theodore made 29 saves in defeat.
"We better figure it out," Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said of the skid. "There's lots of things we need to work on."
One is the power play, where Florida has gone 0-for-15 over its five straight defeats.
The Panthers are trying to avoid their longest skid since losing 10 in a row from March 19-April 8, 2011 and made a move on Wednesday by calling up goaltender Jacob Markstrom from the AHL.
The 23-year-old Swede was a second-round pick in 2008 and has appeared in eight NHL games -- none this season -- with six starts. In 33 minor league games this season, Markstrom has gone 16-15-2 with a 2.65 goals against average and .920 save percentage, yielding two goals or fewer in 11 of his last 16 starts.
It is unknown who will start this game for the Panthers, but Markstrom appears likely to start at least one game on this road trip.
Theodore is 4-6-2 with a 3.37 GAA and .893 save percentage in 12 starts this season, while Scott Clemmensen has gone 0-1-2 with a 4.33 GAA and .837 save percentage in five games (3 starts).
Panthers winger Kris Versteeg is questionable against the Flyers with a chest injury.
Florida lost a 7-1 home decision to the Flyers on Jan. 26, with Read notching his first career hat trick in that game, but countered with a 3-2 shootout win in Philadelphia on Feb. 7.
That was also the Panthers' last victory this season, but they have still lost six of their last eight against the Flyers overall.
02/21 10:27:07 ET