East-leading Flyers pay visit to Senators
FLYERS (40-15-6) at SENATORS (20-32-9)
TV: CBC, CSN-PH (HD)
Philadelphia 7-2-1; Ottawa 3-6-1
Third of four meetings this season. Philadelphia earlier earned a pair of convincing wins over Ottawa at the Wells Fargo Center, with Mike Richards scoring twice and rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky earning the victory both times.
These teams reside at opposite ends of the Eastern Conference standings and the final six weeks of the season mean very different things for them. The Flyers will try to maintain their lead as the top seed in the East and edge out Western Conference power Vancouver for the Presidents' Trophy and home-ice advantage should those teams meet in the Stanley Cup final. The Senators have traded away several veterans in the past couple weeks and are playing mostly for a pride and a lottery pick in the NHL Entry Draft in June.
By no means was it easy, but in the end Philadelphia continued its mastery of the New York Islanders with a 4-3 overtime win on Thursday. The Flyers have won 19 of 20 in the series and 12 straight on home ice. They gave up the game's opening goal to Frans Nielsen and the tying score to Matt Martin in the final minute of regulation, but recovered to earn the second point when defenseman Andrej Meszaros scored from the slot with the seconds ticking down in the extra period.
"I saw the top corner, and it was the only shot I got actually," Meszaros said. "That is the way I have been shooting in practice. I tried it and it went in. It was fortunate for me and for the team."
Sens Blog Central
Not long after sending Mike Fisher to Nashville, it was Alex Kovalev being traded to Pittsburgh on Thursday as Ottawa unloads veterans for draft picks with an eye toward the future. Still, with injuries further depleting their forward corps, the Senators went out and added a piece this week by claiming Marek Svatos
off waivers from the Predators. He debuted with the team Friday in its 4-2 loss to the Sabres, which snapped a two-game winning streak.
"The effort was there, but we just don't have the chemistry right now," coach Cory Clouston said.
Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter each have two goals and three assists during their respective three-game point streaks for the Flyers. Brian Boucher has won his last four starts, posting a .946 save percentage over that span … Jason Spezza
has two goals and three assists in the last two games for the Senators, and three goals and 10 assists in the last 10 games. Milan Michalek
has three goals and four assists in the last six games. Craig Anderson
has stopped 105 of 109 shots (.963 save percentage) in three games since being acquired from the Avalanche. He'll start again tonight.
Philadelphia defenceman Oskars Bartulis is scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery that will likely cost him the rest of the season. Fellow blueliner Chris Pronger (hand) and forward Blair Betts (hand) are day-to-day … Ottawa forward Chris Neil
(lower body) is day-to-day. Goalie Pascal Leclaire
(lower body) and forward Peter Regin
(shoulder) are out indefinitely. Defenceman Sergei Gonchar
(lower body) and forwards Daniel Alfredsson
(back) and Jesse Winchester
(knee) are on injured reserve.
The Flyers have four players (Meszaros, Carter, Matt Carle and Ville Leino) who are plus-20 or better and several others closing in on that mark. By contrast, among regulars on the Senators, Ryan Shannon
leads with a plus-1 while Matt Carkner
Philadelphia didn't reach the top of the East by overlooking teams that are down on their luck like Ottawa.
"We're going to go in there and prepare to win a hockey game," coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's important that we keep winning and keep pace with the other teams that are doing just that. That's our main priority is to just go in and make sure that we play well."