Flyers at Senators – 7 p.m., CSN
Scotiabank Place, Ottawa
Flyers: 22-22-3 (Fifth in Atlantic Division, 11th in Eastern Conference)
Senators: 24-16-6 (Fourth in Northeast Division, sixth in Eastern Conference)
The last time these clubs faced off, the Flyers were handed a frustrating 3-1 defeat by the Senators on April 11 at the Wells Fargo Center. Ilya Bryzgalov was sharp in net, stopping 31 of 33 shots before Daniel Alfredsson sealed a victory for Ottawa with an empty-net tally. Zack Smith and Colin Greening were the only two Sens to beat Bryzgalov. Claude Giroux recorded the Flyers’ lone goal in the first period.
Saturday will mark the third and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Flyers and Sens have split the first two contests, which were both held at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly.
The Flyers closed out the home portion of their disappointing lockout-shortened season with a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday. Danny Briere, in what likely could have been his last home game as a Flyer, scored for the first time in 20 games and rookie Oliver Lauridsen netted the game-winning marker in the third period to give the orange and black their third straight victory. Bryzgalov turned aside 21 shots to help the Flyers finish the season 15-7-2 at the Wells Fargo Center.
Not only did the Senators clinch a playoff berth by beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 in overtime on Thursday night, but they also got their star defenseman back. Erik Karlsson, in his sooner-than-anticipated return, collected two assists after missing 31 games with a lacerated Achilles’ tendon. Jakob Silfverberg and Sergei Gonchar each scored for Ottawa, which had lost its previous two games.
End of the road
The Flyers will play their final game of a trying 2013 season when they take on the playoff-bound Senators on Saturday night. It will be just the second time since 1995 that the orange and black have failed to reach the postseason.
A major reason why the Flyers will not be playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs is because of their play on the road. When away from the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers have posted a 7-15-1 record –- good for third-worst in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers, however, have put together a string of inspired hockey since being eliminated from postseason contention. They have won three consecutive games and could end their frustrating season above .500 with a win.
Keep an eye on ...
The Senators will be looking for their 12th victory in the Flyers’ last 14 visits to Ottawa. The orange and black should pose a tough test, as they have won five of their last six and have outscored opponents 23-11 in the five victories.
Giroux has a two-point lead on Jakub Voracek, who was given the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the Flyers’ most valuable player on Thursday, for the team lead in scoring heading into Saturday’s season finale. Both skaters have paced the Flyers’ offense this season. Giroux has a team-high 34 assists, while Voracek leads the Flyers with a career-high 21 goals.
Karlsson proved how dangerous the Senators can be when he is in the lineup. Last season’s Norris Trophy winner was expected to miss up to six months after Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke stepped on the back of his leg on Feb. 13, but returned in spectacular fashion on Thursday. He logged a game-high 27-plus minutes, fired eight shots on net and assisted both of Ottawa’s goals.
Simon Gagne needs three points to reach 600 in his career. The veteran forward collected an assist on Briere’s first-period goal on Thursday.
Did you know?
The Flyers have scored 19 more power-play goals than their opponents over the last two seasons. The only team in the NHL that has a higher differential on the PP during that span is the Pittsburgh Penguins (30).
Flyers: Kimmo Timonen (foot), Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder surgery), Braydon Coburn (separated left shoulder), Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Bruno Gervais (torn stomach muscle), Kent Huskins (concussion), Zac Rinaldo (high left ankle sprain), Max Talbot (broken left leg) and Jody Shelley (left hip surgery) all remain sidelined.
Senators: Jason Spezza (back surgery), Dave Dziurzynski (concussion) and Mike Hoffman (collarbone) are all on injured reserve and are out indefinitely.
Which Flyer(s) would you like to see or not see return next season? Why?
Flyers at Senators – 7 p.m., CSN