Philadelphia Flyers (6-7-1--13pts)
New Jersey Devils (8-2-3--19pts)
TV: CSN - RADIO: 97.5 The Fanatic
1. COMING INTO TONIGHT
The Flyers come into tonight's game having won four of their last six games and earning points in five of their last six with a record of 4-1-1… The Devils have won five of their last six, having their five-game winning streak snapped in their last game, a 4-2 loss vs. Carolina, which was their second loss in regulation this season… The Flyers have had six of their last eight games decided by one goal, while the Devils have not had a game decided by one goal since Jan. 31.
2. BE-DEVILED LATELY
Tonight is the second of five meetings on the year between the Flyers and Devils and second of three games at Newark… The Flyers dropped a 3-0 decision on Jan. 22 with goaltender Martin Brodeur shutting the door on the Flyers, stopping all 24 shots he saw… The Flyers have lost three of the last four regular season games against the Devils, including the last two games at New Jersey… Counting their playoff series, the Flyers have lost their last four games played in Newark… However, the Flyers have had a winning record against the Devils in the last four seasons.
3. THIS & THAT
Tonight is Claude Giroux's 300th game in the NHL… New Jersey has now scored a power-play goal in six straight games, going 8-for-26 (30.8 percent), while the Flyers have killed 28 of their last 30 penalties… Tonight is the Flyers' 15th game of the season and ninth on the road… Luke Schenn comes into tonight’s game leading the NHL in hits with 55 through 14 games… Kimmo Timonen has two goals and seven assists for nine points, which ranks in the top 10 among NHL defensemen in scoring… Tonight is the first of games on back-to-back nights for both teams - Flyers in Montreal on Saturday, while the Devils play the Islanders… The Flyers also play three of their next four games against Atlantic Division opponents.
4. Player to watch FLYERS: Jakub Voracek
Voracek has taken over the Flyers scoring lead with 10 points (3g-7a) in 14 games so far… He has recorded at least a point in five of his last six games for a total of seven points (2g-5a) in that span, including multiple-point games in two of his last three outings… His average of 15:45 of ice-time per-game is the second lowest in the NHL for a player to lead his team in scoring (TOR's Kadri - 14:29)… Against the Devils, Voracek has five points (3g-2a) in nine career games.
5. Player to watch DEVILS: Ilya Kovalchuk
The Devils sniper comes into tonight's game with a four-game point streak, where he has recorded three goals and five points… Against the Flyers, Kovalchuk averages nearly a point-per-game with 23 goals and 22 assists for 45 points in 46 career games and in their first and only meeting of the year so far, Kovalchuk posted a goal and an assist in the Devils' 3-0 win.
"It was a great win. For morale it was awesome, but like I said the odds were against us and we pulled it out, so it felt good for all the guys in the locker room… You want to take those positives, move forward and be even better in the next game."
Some key offseason losses gave New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer plenty of concern heading into the lockout-shortened slate.
Many of those worries have subsided with the Devils sitting atop the Eastern Conference.
New Jersey looks to rebound from its first regulation home loss on Friday night when it goes for a sixth consecutive victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
With the Devils losing Zach Parise to Minnesota, not re-signing Petr Sykora and center Adam Henrique coming off thumb surgery, DeBoer wasn't sure how his team would respond after making a run to the Stanley Cup finals.
So far they've been outstanding, as the Devils (8-2-3) have assembled four solid lines and are getting solid play in net from Martin Brodeur - named the NHL's third star of the week on Monday - and Johan Hedberg, who has a 0.65 goals-against average in three starts.
"Looking back, I shouldn't be surprised," said DeBoer, whose team had its five-game winning streak snapped with Tuesday's 4-2 loss to Carolina. "This is a group that relies on our team play. Last year, we had interchangeable parts. (Travis) Zajac missed almost the entire year (with an Achilles injury) and we had over 100 points. (Ilya Kovalchuk) missed a playoff game in the second round (against Philadelphia) and we arguably had our best game that night.
"It's a group that has that team-play foundation that we can resort to when good players are out of the lineup."
The Devils won't have left wing Dainius Zubrus for the next four to six weeks following left wrist surgery on Thursday, but forward Alexei Ponikarovsky could see some ice time after being reacquired on Wednesday in a deal that sent two draft picks to Winnipeg.
Ponikarovsky signed with the Jets last summer after scoring nine points in the Devils' playoff run. His lone goal in the postseason came in overtime, lifting New Jersey to a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia in Game 3 of the conference semifinals.
The Flyers (6-7-1), who dropped the final four games of that series, are back in New Jersey after losing 3-0 in the Devils' home opener on Jan. 22.
Philadelphia has dropped the last four as the road team in this Atlantic Division matchup - including two in the playoffs - but the club is on a 4-1-1 surge after defeating the Jets 3-2 on Tuesday. The team opened its season-high six-game trip the night before with a 5-2 loss to Toronto.
"No matter if we lose or win, it's a matter of how fast we can put that game behind us and get ready for the next one," Claude Giroux told the Flyers' official website.
Ilya Bryzgalov, who gave up goals to Zajac, David Clarkson and Kovalchuk last month in New Jersey, should be back in net after making 24 saves versus Winnipeg. He was pulled in the loss to the Maple Leafs.
Offensively, the Flyers could use continued production from the Brayden Schenn-Jakub Voracek-Tye McGinn line. Schenn has two goals and four assists in the last six games, Voracek has a team-best seven points during that stretch and McGinn has found the back of the net in each of the last two contests.
It's uncertain if the Flyers will face Brodeur or Hedberg on Friday. Brodeur made 24 saves on Jan. 22 to extend his NHL record with a 120th shutout.
He has blanked Philadelphia 10 times, tied for his most against any team.
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