Blackhawks-Flyers Preview

The Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers are in the same position in their respective conferences, but only one is currently in line to have home-ice advantage in the first round.

It’s not the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

The Flyers will go for a third straight win Tuesday night as they open a four-game homestand against the Blackhawks, who are in unfamiliar territory looking up at four teams in the Western Conference standings.

Philadelphia (35-25-7) improved to 9-2-1 since the start of February after completing a home-and-home sweep of Pittsburgh with Sunday’s 4-3 win.

Though the Flyers trail the Penguins by 15 points in the Metropolitan Division, they pulled a point ahead of Columbus and the New York Rangers, a position that would give them home-ice against the Metropolitan’s third seed in the first round of the playoffs.

"I think our team will get confidence from this," coach Craig Berube said. "Anytime you come in and you can beat Pittsburgh twice, it’s a big boost."

Plenty of the Flyers’ recent success can be attributed to their special teams. Philadelphia went 3 for 7 with the man advantage in the weekend series, killed all nine of the top-ranked Penguins’ power-play chances and scored two short-handed goals.

Since Feb. 1, the power play has converted 24.4 percent of its chances and the kill has thwarted 87.0 percent.

"The power play was good again, the penalty kill was good again," Berube said after Sunday’s win. "Lots of shots, lots of chances. We played a pretty solid game."

Claude Giroux assisted on both of Wayne Simmonds’ first period power-play goals and has 12 points in seven March games. He also has nine points in his last four regular-season games against Chicago.

Steve Mason won for the eighth time in 11 starts, though his recent games against the Blackhawks haven’t gone well at all. Mason is 0-6-1 with a 4.04 goals-against average and .857 save percentage in eight games against Chicago since Nov. 10, 2011.

He had to relieve backup and former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery in the only meeting this season. Emery, who hasn’t played since Feb. 27 due to a groin injury, allowed six goals on 18 shots in a 7-2 loss.

Seven different Blackhawks scored, Patrick Sharp had a goal and two assists against his former team, and Marian Hossa recorded three assists.

Hossa also helped the Blackhawks (39-15-14) out in Sunday’s 4-1 home win over Detroit. After missing five games with an upper-body injury, Hossa returned with a goal and two assists as Chicago improved to 13-0-1 in his multipoint games.

"He changes the look, the complexion of our line, of our team game," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose team went 2-3-0 with Hossa out of the lineup and was held to two goals in four of those games. "We seem to have the puck a lot more when he’s out there. He made some nice finished plays and he definitely had some nice jump to his game, as well. It made a big difference having him back tonight."

Corey Crawford made 19 saves and improved to 3-1-0 with a 1.51 GAA since March 6, but his team is now in third place in the Central Division, one point behind Colorado.

Chicago is looking for its first victory in Philadelphia since winning the Stanley Cup there on June 9, 2010. Its only return since ended in a 5-4 loss on Jan. 5, 2012.

Fellow forward Brandon Saad missed the third period against Detroit with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.