NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Wednesday, December 11th
(All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (22-6-5), 8 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks try to keep heading in the right
direction when they welcome the Philadelphia Flyers for Wednesday's battle at
the United Center.
Chicago had lost three straight to begin the month of December after closing
November on a season-best six-game winning streak, but the Blackhawks enter
Wednesday coming off consecutive 6-2 victories against the Florida Panthers
and Dallas Stars.
After routing a visiting Florida club on Sunday, the Blackhawks took to the
road to slam Dallas on Tuesday. Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad both scored two
goals to help Chicago end the Stars' point streak at six games with the 6-2
Michael Kostka and Patrick Kane also scored and Kane had two assists for the
Blackhawks, who pushed their NHL-best point total to 49.
"We were throwing the puck at the net and it was going in," said Kostka. "But
we have to make sure we always keep our foot on the gas and don't let teams
crawl back in once we get a lead. I'm pretty sure we did a good job tonight of
Antti Raanta had 27 saves for Chicago on the same day the team announced Corey
Crawford will miss around three weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered in
the first period of Sunday's win against Florida.
If head coach Joel Quenneville chooses not to use Raanta on consecutive
nights, then Kent Simpson, who was recently brought up from the AHL, would get
the call on Wednesday.
The Flyers will try to halt a two-game slide when they visit the Blackhawks on
It's only the third meeting between the clubs since Chicago beat Philadelphia
in six games during the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers have won both
games -- one in Philadelphia and one in Chicago -- since that playoff
showdown, and Philly has taken three straight and 15 of the past 17 regular-
season meetings in this series.
Philadelphia lost its third decision in four games when it dropped a shootout
decision Monday night in Ottawa. Jason Spezza scored in the third round of the
shootout to help the Senators pick up a 5-4 win and avoid a season sweep at
the hands of the Flyers.
Spezza was the final shooter for Ottawa and he slowed down in front of the net
before moving to the forehand and beating Flyers goaltender Steve Mason. Sean
Couturier then rung his wrister off the right post to end the game.
Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn and Michael Raffl each posted a goal and an assist
for the Flyers, who were 2-0 against Ottawa this season heading into the final
regular-season encounter between the clubs.
"We're playing teams that are very good defensively," said Flyers captain
Claude Giroux. "They were all over us whenever we got the puck, and we need to
find a way to create some space to skate."
Mason gave up four goals on 34 shots in the loss. The goaltender hadn't
allowed four goals in any game with the Flyers since joining them at last
season's trade deadline before yielding four in each of his last two outings.
Mason also yielded four goals on 26 shots in Saturday's 5-1 loss in Dallas.
Ray Emery expects to get the start for Philadelphia on Wednesday against the
team he helped win a championship last season. Although Emery didn't see
action at all in the playoffs during Chicago's run to its second Stanley Cup
in four years, he posted a 17-1-0 record during the regular season for the
Presidents' Trophy winners.
Emery is 2-0-1 with a 1.99 goals against average in three career games against
12/11 10:55:28 ET