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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 18th (All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (39-15-14) at Philadelphia Flyers (35-25-7), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - After sweeping a home-and-home series from the rival Pittsburgh Penguins over the weekend, the Philadelphia Flyers will try to stay hot when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Tuesday's inter-conference showdown at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers had lost two straight before beating the Penguins twice over the span of two days.
Philadelphia hosted the Metropolitan Division leaders on Saturday and notched a 4-0 win behind a 25-save shutout from Steve Mason. The Flyers then headed across Pennsylvania to take a 4-3 decision in Pittsburgh on Sunday, with Mason picking up another win after making 20 saves.
Matt Read scored twice for the Flyers on Saturday and Wayne Simmonds pumped home a pair of first-period power-play goals in Sunday's triumph. The Flyers chased Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with three goals in the first 14 minutes on Sunday before holding on for the 4-3 win.
"Our team will get confidence from this. Any time you can beat Pittsburgh twice, even twice in a row, it's a big boost. That's still a very good team over there," offered Flyers head coach Craig Berube.
Brayden Schenn tallied at even strength on Sunday and Read added a short- handed marker. Flyers captain Claude Giroux contributed a pair of assists in his 400th NHL game.
The productive weekend pushed Philadelphia into second place in the Metropolitan Division, but the Pens still hold a 15-point lead atop the division. The Flyers are one point ahead of both Columbus and the New York Rangers in the competitive battle for the division's three automatic playoff spots.
The Flyers are kicking off a four-game homestand on Tuesday and also will host Dallas, St. Louis and Los Angeles during the stay in South Philadelphia. Berube's club is 19-12-1 at Wells Fargo this season and has won six of its last eight games as the host.
The Blackhawks are visiting Philly for the second time since clinching a Stanley Cup title in the City of Brotherly Love on June 9, 2010.
Chicago won Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals at the Wells Fargo Center, as Patrick Kane scored in overtime to deliver the franchise's first championship since 1961. The Blackhawks added their second title in four seasons last spring when it beat Boston in six games for the Cup.
The Flyers are 2-1-0 against Chicago since that postseason encounter nearly four years ago, but the Blackhawks slammed Philly by a 7-2 score when the teams met in the Windy City on Dec. 11. Former Flyer Patrick Sharp had a goal and two assists to lead the way in the rout.
The Blackhawks halted a two-game slide in their last trip to the ice, recording a 4-1 home win over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.
Marian Hossa scored a goal and assisted on two others in his return to Chicago's lineup. Hossa missed five consecutive games with an upper-body injury he suffered against Pittsburgh at Soldier Field on March 1. The Blackhawks went 2-3-0 in his absence.
"(Hossa) changes the look and complexion of our team game. He made a big difference tonight," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville.
Ben Smith had a goal and one assist for Chicago. Duncan Keith collected two assists, giving him 300 for his career, and Corey Crawford earned the win with 19 saves.
Chicago is currently third in the Central Division and one point behind the Colorado Avalanche, who play Tuesday evening in Montreal.
The Blackhawks are 18-9-7 as the visiting team this season. Following tonight's tilt in Philly, the club will play its next four games on home ice.
Chicago will not have forward Brandon Saad for Tuesday's game, as he did not make the trip to Philadelphia due to an upper-body injury suffered on Sunday. Saad, who has 19 goals and 44 points this season, will miss his first game of the 2013-14 campaign.
Also on Tuesday, Quenneville will try to become just the third NHL coach to win 700 career games. Only Scotty Bowman (1,244 wins) and Al Arbour (782) have reached the 700-win mark.
03/18 13:20:47 ET