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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, April 4th (All times Eastern)
Philadelphia Flyers (16-17-3) at Toronto Maple Leafs (20-12-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs are right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race thanks to an eight-game point streak, while a season-high three-game winning streak has the Philadelphia Flyers looking to crash the party as well.
The two clubs meet for the third and final time this regular season on Thursday night in Toronto.
The Leafs have gone 5-0-3 over their past eight games and sit in a tie for fifth overall in the East with the Ottawa Senators with 44 points. That has them five points ahead of a trio of teams in the conference that are tied for the final two postseason spots.
The Flyers are looking to join that group and sit four points back of the three teams thanks to their first three-game winning streak of the season. They picked up a big 5-3 victory over the Northeast Division-leading Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia trailed by a goal after giving up two scores 20 seconds apart late in the second period, but got some fortunate bounces in the third frame. Wayne Simmonds was credited with a tying goal at the 14:54 mark of the third when Bruno Gervais' shot hit off his right skate and in, while Erik Gustafsson put the Flyers ahead with 3:36 to play when his centering pass hit off a Montreal player and into the back of the net.
Jakub Voracek had an empty-net goal, while Sean Couturier and Simon Gagne also lit the lamp in the victory, which gave the Flyers a 3-1-1 record on a five- game homestand ahead of their upcoming three-game swing.
"We have a never-quit attitude and we're getting rewarded for it," said Flyers forward Brayden Schenn. "It doesn't matter if we're down two or up one, we're still working hard in the third periods and trying to win hockey games. We got to keep it going."
Ilya Bryzgalov faced only two Montreal shots in the third and finished with 14 saves. He has appeared in 34 of Philadelphia's 36 games this season, but could be in line for some time off after the Flyers acquired former Calder Trophy winning netminder Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday for backup goaltender Michael Leighton and a 2015 third-round pick.
Mason shined in his debut season of 2008-09, helping the Blue Jackets make their only postseason appearance. He captured the Calder Trophy after logging 33 wins, 10 shutouts and a 2.29 goals against average.
For his career, Mason has compiled a 96-99-27 record with a 2.90 GAA, .903 save percentage and 19 shutouts.
It is unknown who will start versus the Maple Leafs.
Philadelphia, which saw forward Zac Rinaldo leave last night's game with a lower body injury, also claimed forward Adam Hall off waivers from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Maple Leafs take aim at a fourth straight victory on Thursday night as well and have been out of action since a 4-0 win over the Senators on Saturday.
Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul both factored into all four goals. Kadri posted the second hat trick of his career with an assist, while Lupul had a goal and three helpers.
Kadri leads the Leafs with 17 goals and 39 points, while Lupul has notched at least one goal in all six games he has played since missing most of the season with a broken forearm. He has eight goals and five helpers in that span.
"It's really easy to play with him because he's always in the right place at the right time," said Kadri about Lupul. "We've been working really well together and it's been fun here."
James Reimer stopped 31 shots for his second shutout of the season.
Toronto made one trade prior to Wednesday's deadline, getting defenseman Ryan O'Byrne from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft.
The Maple Leafs have won both of their previous meetings with the Flyers this season after dropping five straight and nine of the last 10 encounters. They snapped a five-game series home losing streak with a 5-2 win on Feb. 11.
04/04 10:31:49 ET