The Philadelphia Flyers won’t see their home ice for much of the
next two-plus weeks, but they will get a chance to secure their
longest win streak at the Wells Fargo Center in eight seasons
before heading into the Christmas break.
The Flyers will seek to earn a ninth consecutive home win Monday
night by adding to the Minnesota Wild’s recent woes.
Philadelphia (16-16-4) begins a six-game trip when it returns
from its hiatus Saturday, but first, the Flyers will try to produce
their first nine-game win streak at the Wells Fargo Center since
Oct. 7-Nov. 12, 2005.
“It’s going to be a big game for us,” goaltender Steve Mason
said. “We can go into the Christmas break with a big win and carry
that momentum through to our long road trip that we have coming
Philadelphia will also try to bounce back from a lackluster
effort in its most recent game that ended a four-game point streak.
Not even the return of veteran center Vincent Lecavalier could help
the Flyers on Saturday, and they gave up four third-period goals in
a 6-3 loss in Columbus.
Lecavalier, who has a team-best five power-play goals, missed
the previous nine games with a non-displaced fracture in his back.
He assisted on Sean Couturier’s goal in the second period, which
completed a comeback from an early two-goal deficit, and Wayne
Simmonds started that rally with the first of his two goals.
The Flyers have scored three or more goals in a season-high four
consecutive games but couldn’t get a puck in the net in their only
other matchup with Minnesota this season. Josh Harding made 21
saves in a 2-0 home victory for the Wild on Dec. 2 but is out until
after the break as he adjusts his medication for multiple
Harding is 18-5-3 with a league-best 1.51 goals-against average,
and his absence has been noticeable in the Wild’s past two games.
Minnesota (20-12-5) has given up a combined nine goals in
back-to-back losses and its five allowed in a loss in Pittsburgh on
Thursday was the most since a 6-2 defeat in Montreal on Nov.
The Wild have also struggled to score of late with 21 goals
during a 5-8-1 stretch. Jason Pominville had the only score in a
4-1 loss at the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Minnesota has also been outscored 24-8 while going 1-6-1 in its
last eight road games.
“When you put yourself in a hole, it’s hard to get out of it
when goals have been tough to come by and overall you’re just not
feeling good about the way we’ve been playing,” forward Zach
Parise said. “It’s just been a frustrating stretch for us.
“We’ve got to find a way to score. That’s the bottom line. We’re
not scoring. We’re not giving ourselves a chance.”
Minnesota is 2-6-0 all-time in Philadelphia and was routed 5-1
in its most recent visit Jan. 17, 2012. The Flyers, however, will
have to make some changes to their defense before this one.
Erik Gustafsson is expected to miss the next two weeks with a
sprained left knee and it’s unknown if fellow blueliner Nicklas
Grossmann will return from an illness that kept him out of
Saturday’s loss. Grossmann leads the team with 92 blocked
Flyers winger Steve Downie is expected to miss another week
because of an upper-body injury.