Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

flyers-hurricanes-matchup.jpg

Flyers-Hurricanes: 5 things you need to know

Flyers vs. Hurricanes
7 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet

The Flyers (33-29-18) will try for a third straight win when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes (29-40-11) at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.

Here are five things you should know before puck drop:

1. Feeling right
Have the Flyers finally figured out the best way to utilize Brayden Schenn?

After moving Schenn from his natural center position to left wing, sliding him up and down the lineup and giving him numerous different linemates over the past three seasons, the Flyers may have struck gold by placing the 23-year-old on the right wing with Sean Couturier and Matt Read.

Schenn has collected four goals and three assists during a four-game point streak and is enjoying his first opportunity to play on a different side of the ice.

“Just off the rush, you are able to make more plays and see more of the ice,” he said of his transition to right wing. “I’m able to get off the boards a little more. It’s a change but whatever position Chief (Craig Berube) puts me in, I will be comfortable at. I’m going to do the best job I can.”

Consistency has been Schenn’s biggest crutch at the NHL level. He tends to go through lengthy scoring droughts despite receiving significant playing time at even strength and on the power play in a top-six forward role. The Flyers would love to see Schenn carry over his recent production into next season, but, with one more year on his contract after this season, his future with the organization remains cloudy as ever.

2. Power surge
One aspect of the game that has rarely been an issue for the Flyers in 2014-15 is the power play.

The Flyers boast the league’s third-best PP unit at 23.8 percent. The team has been especially strong on the man advantage over its last seven games, too. The Flyers have tallied at least one power-play goal in each of those tilts and haven’t missed a beat even after losing key PP contributor Wayne Simmonds to a season-ending leg injury two weeks ago.

Believe it or not, the Hurricanes are in a good position to put an end to the Flyers’ recent surge on the power play. Despite its horrid play this season, Carolina is actually the fourth-best team on the penalty kill in the NHL at 84.5 percent.

3. Injuries
Forwards R.J. Umberger (hip/abdomen) and Simmonds (leg) are out for the rest of the season.

Defensemen Andrew MacDonald (hand), Luke Schenn (abdomen) and Radko Gudas (knee) are also sidelined for the Flyers.

The Hurricanes will be without defensemen Jack Hillen (concussion) and Rasmus Rissanen (knee) and forward Riley Nash (concussion).

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Mark Streit has been mighty generous as of late. The veteran defenseman has collected six assists in his last four games, and now ranks third on the Flyers in scoring with 51 points in 79 games. The 37-year-old, who is the first Flyers blueliner to record 50 points in a season since Chris Pronger accomplished the feat in 2009-10, is also just one goal away from recording back-to-back campaigns with at least 10 markers.

Hurricanes: Eric Staal is one of those players who just kills the Flyers. The Hurricanes’ captain has four goals and four assists during his current seven-game point streak against the orange and black, and enters Thursday with nine points in his last eight contests overall. He’s having a down season, but he doesn’t really have much to work with right now. The 30-year-old can still light up any team on any night when he’s on though.

5. This and that
• Dating back to the start of last season, the Flyers have dropped seven of their last eight meetings with the Hurricanes, including three straight.

• Carolina has been outscored, 21-11, excluding shootout goals, during its current 1-4-1 slide.

• The Flyers have averaged 4.4 goals during their current 4-0-1 stretch at the Wells Fargo Center.

• Claude Giroux has seven goals and four assists in his last 11 games.

• Eric and Jordan Staal each have two goals and two assists against the Flyers this season.

Flyers regroup behind Steve Mason for big win over Wild

Flyers regroup behind Steve Mason for big win over Wild

BOX SCORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When Zach Parise scored for the Minnesota Wild just 2:07 into Thursday's game, the Flyers were in another difficult position on the road.

This time, they responded with the type of game they've needed on the road all season.

The Flyers scored three unanswered goals by Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek to beat Minnesota, 3-1, and snap a four-game losing streak on the road (see Instant Replay).

"They're a tough team to handle in their transition," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Parise's goal. "It's quick and it's fast. The players on the bench were outstanding, talking, real calm. Just go out and push it the other way the next shift and I thought we were able to do that."

The Flyers responded with one of their best efforts on the road in nearly two months and pulled within six points of Boston for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference (see standings). The Bruins lost, 6-3, at home to Tampa Bay.

Steve Mason made 24 saves in goal for his 100th win with the Flyers as the team was rarely challenged thanks to an all-around performance that has been missing on the road. The Flyers entered the night tied for the second-fewest road wins in the conference this season.

"Certain things on the road, you've got to be a little more specific with your game and detailed, and I think we did a better job of that tonight," said Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz, who returned to the arena where he played 10 seasons with Minnesota. "Everybody throughout the lineup did that and that's why we got a big win."

The beginning looked all too familiar, though.

An innocent looking dump-in slid to Mason, who tried to cover the puck. The puck went off his stick and Parise quickly poked it past Mason. The Wild had four quality chances early before the Flyers took control.

"They came hard early on in the game and to be able to match that speed; that was a completely different pace of game compared to what we came from in Winnipeg," Mason said. "So, it almost took a second to get your bearings straight to get up to speed."

The Flyers weathered the early flurry by Minnesota, which is safely in playoff position in the West but is facing its own late-season issues. The Flyers killed off both Wild penalties, allowing just two shots on the penalty kill.

Couturier's 12th goal of the season was critical in tying the game with 2:01 left in the first (see feature highlight).

"Coming into the room after the period, I think it's important when you get a big goal like that," captain Claude Giroux said. "You feel like you have the momentum a little bit, so it definitely helped us a lot."

Read provided the lead in the second and the Flyers, who are now 15-2-2 when leading after two periods, pressured in the third. They outshot the Wild, 9-4, in the final period.

"We didn't sit back," Hakstol said. "I thought we were confident with the puck and made some plays and spent a good amount of time in the offensive zone. We played with real confidence in our game."

Mason had been critical after the Flyers lost in Winnipeg on Tuesday, saying the team needed to be more desperate. The Flyers responded Thursday in the difficult position of being on the road and allowing the first goal.

"We knew we had to be better," Schultz said of Mason's comments. "I think on the road, you've got to be at least a .500 team and take care of business at home, and we haven't done that this year. So, obviously, we've got to get better and I think we did respond tonight. Now we have to build on it."

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Wild 1

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Wild 1

BOX SCORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A much-needed win for the Flyers came in an unlikely spot: on the road against one of the Western Conference's top teams.

Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek scored for the Flyers, and Steve Mason made 24 saves in a 3-1 win over the Wild on Thursday. It snapped a four-game winless streak on the road and kept the Flyers' playoff hopes alive.

Mason allowed an early goal to Zach Parise but recovered, and Couturier tied the game in the first. The Flyers responded as a whole and Read scored for the second time in an as many games, while Voracek had his first goal in 11 games with his 18th of the season.

Goalie report
Playing for the 11th time in 12 games, Mason was a little shaky at the start after not covering the puck twice and then coming far out of the cage, leading to a wraparound opportunity for Minnesota. But after Parise's goal -- one of the times Mason thought he had the puck covered -- the netminder was very steady. He didn't get out of position and allowed less than two goals for the fourth time in 12 games.

The victory marked Mason's 100th in a Flyers uniform. He is third in franchise history behind Ron Hextall (240) and Bernie Parent (232).

Faceoffs
The Flyers were dominant in the faceoff circle on Thursday, winning 61 percent of the draws.

Power play
The Flyers didn't take advantage of their one opportunity in the game as defenseman Ivan Provorov was called for a hooking penalty halfway through their lone power play. The Flyers are now 3 for 40 on the power play over the past 12 games.
 
Penalty kill
The penalty kill had one of its better performances in recent games. The Flyers killed off both penalties and allowed just two Minnesota shots in the three minutes of penalty time. Entering the game, the Flyers had allowed 10 goals in 28 occasions on the penalty kill in the previous nine games.

A small move
With the win, the Flyers were able to pull closer to the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston lost, 6-3, at home to Tampa Bay, allowing the Flyers to close within six points with nine games left. The Bruins have only eight games remaining. Two of the teams between Boston and the Flyers -- the Lightning and Hurricanes -- did win Thursday, while the Islanders were idle (see wild-card standings).

Lines change
Looking for a spark, three of the four lines were changed for Thursday's game. Claude Giroux centered Read and Voracek. Valtteri Filppula was between Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare teamed with Travis Konecny and Chris VandeVelde. Coach Dave Hakstol kept the line of Brayden Schenn, Couturier and Dale Weise together.

Blue line return
Defenseman Brandon Manning made his return after missing five games with a shoulder injury.
 
Scratches
Forwards Nick Cousins (upper body) and Roman Lyubimov (healthy), and defenseman Michael Del Zotto (healthy).
 
Up next
The third game of the four-game road trip is Saturday at Columbus. The Flyers are 0-1-1 against the Blue Jackets this season, including a 5-3 loss at home on March 13.