NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Monday, December 23rd (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (20-13-5) at Philadelphia Flyers (16-16-4), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers aim to push their winning streak at home to nine straight games for the first time in over eight years on Monday night when they play host to the Minnesota Wild.
The Flyers picked up a victory in the opener of a home-and-home set versus the Columbus Blue Jackets last Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center, scoring all of their goals in the third period to rally for a 5-4 win. However, they dropped the road portion of the series on Saturday, falling 6-3 in Columbus after the Blue Jackets scored four times in the final period.
Wayne Simmonds tallied twice and Sean Couturier once for the Flyers, who have lost five straight on the road. Ray Emery was shelled for five scores on 28 shots in defeat.
"I don't think we were flat," Flyers head coach Craig Berube said. "We made mistakes on their goals that will be easy to correct. They didn't have to happen."
Both Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek picked up assists to extend their respective point streaks. Voracek has six goals and five assists over his career-high seven-game run, while Giroux has notched four goals and seven assists over his streak of six games that matches a career high.
The red-hot duo have helped Philadelphia post its longest home winning streak since Dec. 9, 2008-Jan. 10, 2009 and the Flyers are looking to claim nine straight as the hosting team for the first time since Oct. 7-Nov. 12, 2005.
Defenseman Nick Grossman missed Saturday's game due to the flu and fellow blueliner Erik Gustafsson suffered a sprained knee in the loss that will keep him out for two weeks.
The Wild may not be the best candidate to challenge the Flyers' home winning streak given that they have lost seven of their last eight on the road. That includes the first two of a four-game road trip that ends on Friday in Winnipeg.
Minnesota is coming off last night's 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers, getting a goal from Jason Pominville and 32 saves by Niklas Backstrom.
"Once they got that second goal, we just became a little flustered and weren't able to regain any momentum," said Wild forward Zach Parise.
Backstrom lost his sixth decision in a row and is just 2-7-2 with a 3.19 goals against average and .895 save percentage this season. He is getting extended playing time with Josh Harding on injured reserve while he undergoes an adjustment to his treatment for multiple sclerosis.
Harding is expected to return to action on Friday.
Ryan Suter had an assist in five straight games for the Wild, who have been held to a pair of goals or fewer in 13 of their last 15 contests, not counting shootout tallies.
Harding made 21 saves in a 2-0 home shutout of the Flyers on Dec. 2, while Pominville and Charlie Coyle had goals.
The Wild snapped a two-game losing streak to the Flyers, but have lost four of their past five in Philadelphia.
12/23 10:51:06 ET