The Philadelphia Flyers are no doubt pleased to be heading to Atlanta.
The Flyers will be looking for their eighth straight victory over the Thrashers when the teams meet on Tuesday night.
Philadelphia (29-17-5) has not lost to Atlanta since a 6-5 overtime loss at home on Nov. 18, 2005. The Flyers have not lost in regulation to the Thrashers since a 4-1 defeat in Atlanta on Dec. 21, 2003, going 11-0-1 since then.
|Mike Knuble hopes to help his Flyers teammates continue their recent success against the Thrashers tonight. The last time Philadelphia lost to Atlanta was in overtime on Nov. 18, 2005. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)|
Since the Thrashers (26-25-4) entered the league in 1999, the Flyers are 23-3-1 with three ties against them, including a 12-2-1 mark at Philips Arena. Philadelphia has won the first two meetings this season by a combined score of 8-1.
"When you have a team's number, it gives you confidence," said Philadelphia's Scott Hartnell, who had a goal and two assists in the most recent matchup, a 4-1 win in Atlanta on Jan. 8. "You play with that confidence on the ice."
That win was part of a 13-3-1 run that has catapulted the Flyers from last place in the Atlantic Division into a three-way tie for first with New Jersey and Pittsburgh. After 706 career games, Mike Knuble recorded his first NHL hat trick in Saturday's 3-0 win over defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim.
Flyers coach John Stevens adjusted his lines a bit, adding R.J. Umberger with Jeff Carter and Knuble and switching, Scottie Upshall to a line with Daniel Briere and Simon Gagne. Stevens says he plans to stick with that arrangement in Atlanta.
However, the coach will be switching goalies for the game, as Antero Niittymaki will get the nod over Martin Biron, who made 27 saves for his third shutout of the season on Saturday. Niittymaki is 7-0-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average in seven career games against the Thrashers and had 28 saves on Jan. 8.
"I know (Biron) is coming off of a shutout, but looking at the schedule, I kind of targeted that game for Niitty only because it seems to bring out his best game," Stevens told the Flyers' official Web site. "We're going to need a great game from Niitty. They are playing well, and it allows Marty to get right back in the net at home."
The Thrashers have won three straight, one shy of their season high. Todd White broke a scoreless tie and Marian Hossa added an empty-net goal in Saturday's 2-0 win in Washington, helping Atlanta move into a first-place tie with Carolina in the Southeast Division.
Kari Lehtonen made 36 saves in his third shutout of the season, helping Atlanta win despite being without Ilya Kovalchuk, who leads the team with 38 goals and 64 points.
"We didn't want to get in a shootout tonight," coach Don Waddell said. "We didn't think that would be to our advantage. We really wanted to keep it tight. When you're missing your leading goal scorer, it's always a challenge. You have to change your game plan to play to your strengths."
Waddell said that Kovalchuk, who is nursing an injured right knee, will likely miss his third straight game on Tuesday, and is day-to-day. The Thrashers are 2-0-1 without the All-Star this season.