Flyers vs. Panthers – 7 p.m., CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
The Flyers will try for their first three-game winning streak of 2013 when they host the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Although the Flyers are among the NHL’s lowest-scoring teams at 2.30 goals per game, seven of their 23 markers this season came against Florida on Jan. 26. The Panthers have allowed an average of 3.67 goals in nine games -– tied for second-worst in the league.
Thursday’s contest will mark the second of three meetings between these two clubs in this 48-game, lockout-shortened season.
Flyers: 4-6-0 (Fifth in Atlantic Division, 12th in Eastern Conference)
Panthers: 3-5-1 (Fourth in Southeast Division, 13th in Eastern Conference)
In their most impressive offensive game of the early season, the Flyers beat the Panthers, 7-1, on Jan. 26 in Sunrise, Fla. Matt Read netted his first career NHL hat trick – on just three shots – and Ilya Bryzgalov made 30 saves.
In four matchups in 2011-12, the Flyers outscored Florida 12-6 and went 3-1 to take the season series. The Flyers have won six of the last seven meetings overall between the two clubs and have held the Panthers to two goals or fewer in all of those contests.
Tom Sestito matched his career goal total by registering two tallies in the Flyers’ 2-1 victory over the high-powered Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. The Flyers limited the NHL’s highest-scoring team to just 22 shots and one goal –- a third-period marker by Benoit Pouliot. Bryzgalov continued his superb play in net, turning aside 21 shots to earn his fourth win of the season.
The Panthers are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Tomas Fleischmann and rookie Jonathan Huberdeau had Florida’s goals, as netminder Scott Clemmensen made 18 saves in his second start of the season.
Keep an eye on...
Bryzgalov is expected to make his third consecutive start for the Flyers. He's been stellar so far this season, going 4-5 with a 2.24 goals against average and .923 save percentage. In seven career starts against the Panthers, Bryzgalov has gone 5-1-1 with one shutout, a 1.40 goals against average and a .948 save percentage.
The Flyers’ success on offense has largely hinged on their ability to capitalize on power plays. In their four wins this season, they've gone 6-for-15 (40 percent) on the man advantage, compared to their 2-for-30 (6.7 percent) total the power-play in their six losses.
Florida’s power play unit was held scoreless against Winnipeg after going 4-for-8 in its previous two games.
Did you know?
Prior to Sestito’s second-period goal on Tuesday, the 25-year-old last scored in an NHL game on Dec. 23, 2010 as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 7-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Sestitio, who now has two goals in five games this season, is tied with Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier for third on the Flyers in goals.
Some other notable NHL players with two goals this season include: Evgeni Malkin, Taylor Hall, Brad Richards, Rick Nash, Patrick Sharp, Daniel Sedin, Bobby Ryan, Daniel Alfredsson, Tyler Seguin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Alex Ovechkin and Shane Doan.
Flyers: Simmonds (concussion) practiced with the Flyers on Wednesday, but wore the “no contact” yellow jersey. The 24-year-old, who has two goals and three assists in eight games this season, has missed the Flyers’ last two games after being elbowed by Capitals defenseman John Erskine in last Friday’s 3-2 loss to Washington.
Scott Hartnell (left foot) and Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder) are both on Injured Reserve and remain sidelined.
Panthers: Scottie Upshall injured his ankle in a fight with James Wright of the Jets last Thursday and is out indefinitely. The former Flyer had 27 goals and 37 assists in parts of three seasons with the Orange and Black from 2006-09 (134 games).
Defensemen Ed Jovanovski (knee) and Michael Caruso (broken wrist) are also out indefinitely.
The Flyers conclude their four-game homestand with a 1 p.m. matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.
Florida caps off its four-game road trip at 7 p.m. Saturday night against the Washington Capitals.
Which Flyer has impressed you most through the first 10 games of the season?
Flyers vs. Panthers – 7 p.m., CSN