Thrashers-Flyers Preview

The Philadelphia Flyers know they have to start playing better

to keep the top spot in the Eastern Conference. A matchup against

the Atlanta Thrashers may not help them in their pursuit of the No.

1 seed.

Philadelphia looks to snap a three-game home losing streak to

the Thrashers and a four-game overall skid at the Wells Fargo

Center on Thursday night.

The Flyers (46-20-10) have led the East since Jan. 8 but have

dropped nine of 15. A 5-2 victory at Pittsburgh on Tuesday gave

them a four-point cushion over the Penguins in the division and a

three-point lead over Washington in the conference.

“We needed to have a big effort tonight,” left wing Scott

Hartnell told the Flyers’ official website after scoring and adding

an assist. “We’ve kind of been slacking the last little while.”

Philadelphia, which will be eliminated from Presidents’ Trophy

contention with a loss and a Vancouver victory against Los Angeles

on Thursday, has dropped four straight at home for the first time

since an 0-5-1 skid Feb. 6-23, 2008.

The Flyers’ current slide at the Wells Fargo Center began with a

5-4 overtime loss to Atlanta on March 12. The Thrashers (32-32-12)

scored four times in the third period as the Flyers blew a

three-goal lead after two.

Atlanta will likely need to win out and get some help to have a

chance at its first postseason berth since 2007.

“It’s 6-0, that’s the reality of it,” defenseman Ron Hainsey

said following Tuesday’s 3-1 loss at Montreal. “It may have been

7-0, this may have been a must-win, too. The goal is to win every

game the rest of the way and see where that takes us.”

Atlanta, winner of six of seven in this series following 14

straight losses, could help itself by improving on the power play.

The Thrashers are 1 for 21 over the last seven games.

The Flyers are 2 for 19 with the man advantage since Ville Leino

had two power-play goals as part of his hat trick against the

Thrashers on March 12.

Leino, who had two goals and an assist Tuesday, is tied with

Danny Briere with a team-high three scores versus Atlanta this

season.

Flyers rookie Sergei Bobrovsky is 1-0-1 with a 3.46

goals-against average against the Thrashers. His 27 saves helped

Philadelphia end a four-game skid to Atlanta with a 5-2 road win

Jan. 14.

Atlanta’s Ondrej Pavelec, who made 28 saves Tuesday in his first

action in 10 days, was replaced by Chris Mason in Philadelphia on

March 12 after giving up three goals on 12 shots.

The Flyers were 14-1-1 with two ties all-time at home versus the

Thrashers prior to dropping the last three.