Preview: Wild at Flyers
PHILADELPHIA — One month into the season, the Philadelphia Flyers are searching for a goaltender who can pull them out of mediocrity.
On Saturday night they'll be facing a team whose goaltender is playing his best hockey of the season.
Steve Mason was torched for six goals in the Flyers' 6-3 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto Friday night, which makes it all but certain Michal Neuvirth will get the start against the Wild. It will be the Flyers' fifth back-to-back games of the season.
Minnesota, meanwhile, is expected to turn to goaltender Devan Dubnyk, who has given up six goals in his last 21 periods and is 4-2-0 with an 0.84 goals-against average, .974 save percentage and three shutouts in his last six starts.
Neuvirth is 4-2-0 with a 3.57 GAA and .859 save percentage. He's coming off a 5-4 loss to the Canadiens on Saturday, which came after Neuvirth strung together three straight wins.
Led by two goals from Wayne Simmonds, who now leads the team with eight, and another by Travis Konecny, the Flyers (6-7-2) carried a 3-2 lead into the third period in Toronto on Friday night, only to see the Maple Leafs score four third-period goals on Mason, who has surrendered three or more goals in six of his eight starts this season.
“You can't win is you only play 40 minutes,” Konecny told the Philadelphia Inquirer after picking up his fourth goal.
The Wild (7-4-1) are coming off perhaps their most impressive win of the season, a 4-2 win in Pittsburgh on Thursday. Eric Staal had three points and broke a 2-2 tie in the third period and Dubnyk turned aside 39 of 41 shots in the win.
“That's a difficult task after as many days off as we had to go up against that group,” Dubnyk told the Star Tribune. “It was a tough first 10 minutes. They were flying, and we were trying to get our feet and hands going again.
“But I thought we reacted real well after their (first) power-play goal and perfectly continued to get better as each minute went by in that game. Real big win for us.”
The Wild recorded a season-high 44 shots in the win, which snapped a two-game losing streak, and were credited with 32 hits.
The Wild allowed two power-play goals to the Penguins but still lead the NHL on the penalty kill.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol shook things up against the Maple Leafs. Left winger Michael Raffl was replaced by Nick Cousins and defenseman Brandon Manning, who struggled Tuesday night against the Red Wings, was replaced by Nick Schultz.
Schultz was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere on the Flyers' top pairing, while Michael Del Zotto, who had been paired with Gostisbehere, played alongside Radko Gudas.