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.
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
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
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.