Wild-Flyers Preview

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

up.”

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

sclerosis.

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.

19.

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

shots.

Flyers winger Steve Downie is expected to miss another week

because of an upper-body injury.