Flyers-Senators: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Senators: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (5-10-1) will begin a three-game road trip on Tuesday night when they take on the Ottawa Senators (7-6-1).

Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. (CSN) at Canadian Tire Centre -- formerly Scotiabank Place -- in Ontario.

With the Flyers looking to build on a strong offensive performance and the Senators hoping to extend their win streak to four, here are five things you need to know for the game:

1. Keep the offense going
Goals have not come easy for the Flyers this season. They’re averaging an NHL-worst 1.62 goals per game and have scored two goals or less in 14 of their 16 contests.

However, the Flyers are coming off one of their better performances this campaign after dispatching the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2, on Saturday.

Several positives came from the Flyers’ victory over Edmonton. Claude Giroux registered his first goal in 21 games. Vinny Lecavalier snapped a three-game pointless streak with a third-period tally. Scott Hartnell found the back of the net for the second time in three games after failing to collect a point in his first nine games.

Those are three players the Flyers need to see on the scoresheet on a consistent basis if they want to put a stretch of wins together.

It’s important for the Flyers to keep putting the puck in the net. They remain dead last in the Metropolitan Division and need to start gaining ground sooner rather than later.

2. Downie returns?
The Flyers could have their only injured player back in the lineup on Tuesday night.

Steve Downie, who practiced on a line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read on Monday, has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion during a fight with Captials winger Aaron Volpatti earlier this month.

In his only game with the Flyers since he was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche, Downie played over 10 minutes with two shots before dropping the gloves with Volpatti. He is considered a game-time decision for the Flyers’ matchup with Ottawa (see story).

“We’re working on it,” Downie said Monday. “Today was another step. We’ve got some more talking to do.”

If Downie returns, Michael Raffl will likely be the odd man out. Although head coach Craig Berube could choose to sit Kris Newbury or Jay Rosehill, as well. Both Raffl and Newbury have spent time with the Adirondack Phantoms this season. One of the two could be sent back down to the AHL when Downie is 100 percent healthy.  

3. Between the pipes
Apparently three consecutive wins and a First Star of the Week award isn’t enough to keep Robin Lehner in net for the Senators.

Instead of going back to the red-hot Lehner, Ottawa coach Paul MacLean will start No. 1 Sens goaltender Craig Anderson against the Flyers on Tuesday night.

Anderson has sat out the last three games with a stiff neck. Prior to his injury, Anderson allowed 16 goals in his last four starts -- all losses.

With Anderson sidelined, Lehner took advantage of his opportunity to play. He stopped 91 of 95 shots fired his way and posted a 1.33 goals-against average in three starts -- all victories. He’ll back up Anderson on Tuesday.

Anderson has had success against the Flyers in his career, going 7-3-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 12 games (11 starts).  

4. Dynamic duo
The Flyers are going to have their hands full with Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris on Tuesday.

The two linemates have keyed the Senators’ current 3-0-2 stretch. They’re both plus-8 in those games and enter Tuesday with lengthy scoring streaks.

Ryan has scored three goals and assisted seven more during his six-game point streak. The New Jersey native, who was acquired Ottawa this past summer, is off to a marvelous start to his Senators career. He has a team-high 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) through 17 games this season.

Turris has recorded a point in seven straight. He has three markers and seven helpers during his current run and is tied with Erik Karlsson for second on the Senators in scoring with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists).

5. This and that
• The Flyers took two of three games from the Senators in 2013 despite scoring just five goals in the season series. They last met on April 27, when the Flyers closed out their season with a 2-1 win in Ottawa.

• Colin Greening led the Sens offensively against the Flyers last year, registering one goal and two assists. He has just three points – all assists – in 17 games this season.

• Jakub Voracek had two of the Flyers’ five goals against the Senators last year.

• Visiting teams are 2 for 39 on the power play in Ottawa this season.

• With Anderson returning, Erik Condra is the only other injured Senator. He’s out with a leg injury.

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6 on Saturday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Derek Stepan also scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots to help New York get past the first round for the fifth time in six years. The Rangers won three straight after falling behind 2-1 to beat Montreal for the ninth time in 16 postseason series.

The Rangers will face the winner of the Ottawa-Boston series, which the Senators lead 3-2.

Alexei Emelin scored for Montreal and Carey Price finished with 20 saves. The Canadiens, winners of the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs last year, were bounced from the postseason by the Rangers for the second time in four years. In 2014, it was in the conference finals (see full recap).

Paajarvi's OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series, eliminating the Wild.

The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round.

Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame.

Paajarvi's first career playoff goal gave Blues coach Mike Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago.

Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period (see full recap).

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

As the Flyers packed up for the offseason much earlier than they had hoped, the focus started shifting to the outlook for 2017-18.

There was some optimism provided by Valtteri Filppula.

It wasn't anything he said. Instead, it was what he did in 20 games.

Make that a full sample size and the Flyers are excited about the possibilities.

Filppula, a well-rounded, 33-year-old center, was acquired at the March 1 trade deadline in the Mark Streit deal. He added five goals and three assists in his 20 games.

"I felt like later in the year, we had more bullets in our gun," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week as the team held exit interviews and cleanout day. "(Jordan) Weal comes in and does a good job. Filppula comes in and really gives us stability. Really upgraded our top nine. So when you're talking 5-on-5 play, just to depend on five or six guys, all of a sudden you have nine guys you can count on."

The Flyers were 27th in the NHL with 128 goals at 5-on-5 -- a significant factor in their postseason absence.

But Filppula should bring more than simply a 5-on-5 boost.

The Flyers desperately needed depth at the center position to relieve some pressure from Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Filppula, who came from the Lightning and played seven seasons with the Red Wings -- winning a Stanley Cup in 2008 -- is a sound matchup center and plays on the penalty kill, too.

"I think with Fil coming in this year, it really helped our depth," Giroux said. "He brings a lot to the team. He kills penalties, power plays, very good defensively and he's a smart player. When you bring a guy in like that, you kind of get excited a little bit."

From Filppula's first game on March 2 to the end of the regular season, the Flyers scored 56 goals, 12th most in the NHL over that span and 2.80 per game -- both improvements from their ranking of 21th on the full season and 2.59 per game.

"Now that we feel like we have nine guys that are legit top-nine forwards," Hextall said, "we've got good balance."

Couturier saw immediate benefits when the Flyers acquired Filppula. Couturier started playing with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn, which turned out to be the team's best line combination to finish the regular season.

"I think it just brought some depth to our lineup," Couturier said of Filppula acquisition. "I had the chance to play after that with Schenn and Weiser and we just found chemistry right away and things went really well."

It provided head coach Dave Hakstol greater flexibility.

"The addition of Val Filppula to our group up front made our group of forwards better," Hakstol said. "Not just his presence, which I think he's an outstanding hockey player, a good hockey player and a real good veteran, but it just allowed some of the others to come together. I think there's real substance there."

The Flyers hope it shows with a full season of Filppula.

"I think when Filppula came in, the balance that seemed to come with him entering our lineup helped us both with and without the puck," Hakstol said. "Will that cohesion help us generate more offensively on an 82-game basis, not just a short-term basis? I think the answers to those things are yes."