Flyers vs. Panthers – 7 p.m., CSN
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Coming off emotional back-to-back road wins over two Atlantic Division rivals, the Flyers have to make sure they don’t let up and keep their momentum flowing in their return to the Wells Fargo Center.
After a season-long, six-game road trip in which they went 3-3, the Flyers will finally return to their home ice to open a five-game homestand against the reeling Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
The Flyers are 4-1-1 at home this season and have a chance to gain some ground in the standings against five non-division opponents over the next week and a half.
Flyers: 8-9-1 (Fourth in Atlantic Division, 10th in Eastern Conference)
Panthers: 4-7-4 (Fourth in Southeast Division, 14th in Eastern Conference)
Although the Flyers led for a good portion of the last contest between these two clubs, it was the Panthers that took home a 3-2 victory in a shootout on Feb. 7 in South Philadelphia. Jakub Voracek and Matt Read each scored for the Flyers, while netminder Ilya Bryzgalov turned aside 22 shots in a losing effort.
Thursday will be the third and final matchup between the Flyers and Panthers this season. The teams have split the first two, with the traveling club winning both contests.
Less than 24 hours ago, the Flyers took down the Penguins in a wild and exciting 6-5 victory at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Voracek netted his first career NHL hat trick and Wayne Simmonds had two goals, one assist and a fight to help the Flyers end their road trip on a high note.
Florida dropped its fifth consecutive game, a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of Ben Scrivens and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. The Panthers have gone 0-for-15 on the power play and have given up 21 goals during their current skid.
Claude Giroux seems to be working his way out of an early offensive funk. Over his past five games, the Flyers’ captain has eight points (two goals, six assists) and has rocketed 16 shots on net. He is, however, a minus-3 over that span as well.
After getting off to a slow start to this lockout-shortened campaign, Voracek has been absolutely on fire for the orange and black. The 23-year-old has recorded at least one point in eight of his last 10 contests (five goals, 10 assists) and is leading the Flyers in scoring with 18 points this season.
Simmonds has also been hot for the Flyers as of late. Since returning from a concussion sustained on Feb. 1 against the Capitals, the 24-year-old has posted four goals and three assists in seven games.
For the Panthers, Jonathan Huberdeau has three goals in his past four contests. The rookie is leading Florida in goals with six and is second on the team in points with nine.
Max Talbot, who scored a career-high 19 goals last season, has yet to find the back of the net through 18 games for the Flyers. He has just 16 shots on target to go along with his four assists and minus-3 rating.
Florida’s goaltending tandem of Jose Thedore and Scott Clemmensen is allowing an NHL-worst 3.73 goals per game and has struggled mightily this season.
Keep an eye on...
In an effort to shake things up, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon called up netminder Jacob Markstrom from the AHL San Antonio Rampage on Wednesday. Markstrom, who has won eight of his last 12 starts, was the Panthers’ second-round pick in the 2008 NHL draft. Neither Tallon nor head coach Kevin Dineen have indicated when Markstrom will get his first start, however.
Did you know?
Prior to Evgeni Malkin’s first-period tally on the man advantage on Wednesday, the Flyers had not allowed a power-play goal in six consecutive games.
Dating back to a 3-2 loss to Washington on Feb. 1, the Flyers have successfully killed off 43 of their 47 shorthanded situations (91.4 percent).
• Matt Read left Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated on Thursday.
• Scott Hartnell (left foot) was cleared to practice on Wednesday, but general manager Paul Holmgren said he is still at least 7-10 days away from returning.
• Andrej Meszaros is still recovering from a left shoulder injury. He is expected to meet with his orthopedist on Thursday.
• Jody Shelley (hip) and Michael Leighton (finger) are on injured reserve and remain sidelined.
• Kris Versteeg is questionable for Thursday’s game with a chest injury.
• Scottie Upshall (ankle), Ed Jovanovski (knee), Sean Bergenheim (groin) and Michael Caruso (wrist) are all on injured reserve.
How impressed are you by Voracek’s recent play?