NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 24 (All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (26-23-11) at Carolina Hurricanes (21-30-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers boosted their playoff hopes with a successful weekend and hope to pick up a third straight victory when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes in Tuesday's battle at PNC Arena.
The Flyers have been picking up points at a steady pace over the last month, losing just once in regulation over their last 13 games (8-1-4). However, Philadelphia had lost two straight heading into the weekend, when the NHL- leading Nashville Predators and Washington Capitals were due to visit the City of Brotherly Love.
Philly earned a 3-2 shootout win over the Predators on Saturday and the following day defeated the Capitals by the same score in regulation. Washington still sits 13 points ahead of the Flyers in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference standings, but Philadelphia is only four points in back of Boston for the last wild card spot in the East.
The Flyers hope to avoid a letdown tonight against a Carolina club that is second from last in the conference standings. The Hurricanes have had Philadelphia's number in recent meetings, claiming five of the last six in this series.
Carolina also has claimed the past three encounters in Raleigh. The 'Canes are 12-11-3 as the host this season and will complete a two-game homestand Friday against Washington.
Michael Del Zotto potted the winning goal for Philadelphia on Sunday with 4:13 to play. The deciding score came after Jakub Voracek worked the puck along the right boards and sent a pass over to the left wing where a flying Del Zotto wristed it into the right corner of the net.
"To be honest with you I think our players have focused on game-to-game," said Philadelphia head coach Craig Berube. "We wanted them to. I truly believe that."
Claude Giroux posted a goal and an assist and Wayne Simmonds also scored for the Flyers. Voracek and Mark Streit each posted a pair of assists in the victory. Voracek is currently third in the NHL with 63 points on 19 goals and 44 assists.
Rob Zepp turned aside 21 shots to win for the second time in two days. Zepp will start again tonight and rookie goaltender Anthony Stolarz, who has yet to see action in an NHL games, will serve as the backup.
Philadelphia's top two goaltending options are unavailable as Ray Emery recently joined No. 1 netminder Steve Mason on the shelf. Emery is out with a lower-body injury, while Mason, who has missed the last seven games with a knee injury, is nearing a return to action. He is not expected to be back for either tilt on Philadelphia's two-game road trip, which ends Thursday in Toronto.
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen also is not expected to play on this road trip. Timonen has not played this season due to blood clots in his legs and lungs, but has been practicing with the team. The 39-year-old could make his 2014-15 debut when the Flyers host the New York Rangers on Saturday.
The Hurricanes have lost two of three and four of their last six games. They fell 3-1 Saturday in New Jersey and Jeff Skinner providing Carolina's lone goal with 6:04 remaining in the third period. Skinner has disappointed this season with only 14 goals in 53 games, but four of those markers have come over his last six trips to the ice.
"I think it may have been what we did to ourselves. A couple times we turned it over in some tough areas, and they made us pay," Skinner said. "They did a good job being in those lanes and capitalizing on those mistakes, but those are mistakes that we can correct."
Carolina pulled goaltender Anton Khudobin in favor of the extra attacker with over four minutes to play, but couldn't score despite spending plenty of time in the New Jersey zone. Khudobin finished with 16 saves in the loss.
Cam Ward is expected to start tonight for the Hurricanes. The veteran goaltender is 6-10-3 with a 3.04 goals against average in his career against the Flyers.
02/24 10:52:57 ET