Couturier on goal: 'I think I was due'
Get used to seeing the Flyers in their white sweaters.
Beginning Saturday in Nashville, the Flyers (11-12-4) will spend their next 12 days away on the road. They open a six-game trip with a matchup against the Predators (13-11-2).
Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena (CSN). Here are five things you need to know:
1. Couturier shining
Over the past few weeks, the Flyers have been getting some outstanding play from their third line.
Sean Couturier, who centers Matt Read and Steve Downie on that line, had arguably his best performance of the season in the Flyers’ 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday (see story).
Couturier played just under 23 minutes -- including 6:36 on the penalty kill -- and scored a clutch shorthanded goal that turned into the game-winner. The third-year Flyer also had six shots and two hits.
“Couturier did very good,” head coach Craig Berube said after the game. “He does the job for us. Killing penalties, checking, scoring shorthanded. He did really well with it.”
The 20-year-old also had a shorthanded breakaway in the first period, but was robbed by Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec. More importantly, he spearheaded a strong penalty killing effort by the Flyers, who didn’t allow a goal in six shorthanded situations.
2. Battle of special teams
Entering Friday, the Flyers had scored at least one power-play goal in eight consecutive games. Winnipeg, however, ended that streak by killing off all four of its penalties.
The Flyers have gone 5 for 14 on the PP in their last four road games, but will be going up against a white-hot Predators PK unit Saturday. Nashville has not allowed a power-play goal in seven straight games (17 for 17).
The Predators have also been terrific at killing penalties at home. The last time they surrendered a goal while a man down in Nashville was Oct. 26 against the St. Louis Blues.
These two teams have not met since Feb. 2, 2012 when Wayne Simmonds picked up two goals to help the Flyers to a 4-1 win over the Predators at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers have not fared well at Bridgestone Arena over the past few years. Dating back to the 2000-01 season, Nashville has won five consecutive home games against the orange and black.
In fact, the last time the Flyers earned a victory in Nashville was March 21, 2000. In that game, John LeClair and Simon Gagne each scored and Brian Boucher made 27 saves to shut out the Predators.
As if being shut out by Ilya Bryzgalov and the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Thursday wasn’t bad enough, the Predators also lost defenseman Shea Weber in the second period of that game after he took a puck to the face.
Weber is listed as day-to-day, and will not play against the Flyers. The Predators’ captain is the only defenseman in the NHL to lead his team in goals (seven) and is among the league leaders with 26:09 minutes per game.
The Flyers have caught a huge break with Weber out of Nashville's lineup. This season, Weber has 62 hits, 54 blocked shots and the Predators have gone 7-0-0 when he’s found the back of the net.
Also out for Nashville are forward Filip Forsberg and defenseman Kevin Klein. In addition, goaltender Pekka Rinne (hip surgery) is on injured reserve and will not play.
For the Flyers, Matt Read returned to the lineup Friday after missing one game with a foot injury. Only Couturier logged more minutes among forwards than Read, who had two shots and three takeaways.
5. This and that
• Scott Hartnell, who had the Flyers’ first marker Friday, has recorded five of his eight points this season on the road. He has two assists in five games against the Predators since they traded him to the Flyers in June 2007.
• Nashville has been held without a goal six times this season and have managed only one in five other games – all losses.
• The Flyers won’t return to Wells Fargo Center until Dec. 12 when they host the Montreal Canadiens in Danny Briere’s return to Philadelphia.
• The Predators lead in the NHL in team faceoff win percentage this season (55.1 percent).
• The Flyers are 0-2-1 in their last three road games.