Streaks have defined the Philadelphia Flyers' season thus far, and now they're on the verge of their longest winning streak in more than three years.
The Flyers seek a sixth consecutive victory on Wednesday, when they open a home-and-home set against the Carolina Hurricanes at the RBC Center.
Philadelphia (10-6-4) opened 2008-09 with six straight losses, but rebounded by winning four in a row heading into November. That momentum was interrupted by a three-game slide to start the month, but the team has since won six of seven games (6-0-1) including each of the last five.
With a 4-3 home victory over Dallas on Monday, the Flyers matched their longest run from last season (Oct. 10-20, 2007). They now have a chance to win six straight for the first time since Oct. 30-Nov. 12, 2005.
"We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole so it's nice to climb up in the standings," said winger Mike Knuble, whose second goal of Monday's game broke a 3-all tie in the third period.
Philadelphia has given up only 10 goals during the winning streak, thanks to strong goaltending from Martin Biron and Antero Niittymaki.
Biron made 22 saves Monday and has compiled a 1.97 goals-against average while winning five of his last six starts, but coach John Stevens told the Flyers' official Web site that Niittymaki will start Wednesday.
The teams will meet four times in the next 16 days. The Flyers are 9-2-3 against the Hurricanes since Nov. 28, 2003, and won the first three contests in last season's series before a 6-5 home shootout loss on Dec. 15.
"They are going to be a tough opponent to play the same team that many times," said Stevens, whose team will host Friday's matchup. "They are a dangerous team and they play an uptempo game."
Carolina (11-9-2) will look to bounce back after losing 3-2 at Florida on Monday. Sergei Samsonov assisted on both goals, but the Hurricanes suffered a second straight defeat following their season-high three-game winning streak.
The Hurricanes failed to capitalize on a pair of power-play opportunities to fall to 1-for-21 in those situations over the last five games.
"It's one of those games where we felt like we had the play but we just didn't generate enough scoring chances," captain Rod Brind'Amour said. "The effort is fine, but we've got to get results."
Ward, who has compiled a 2.46 GAA in winning three of his last four games, has lost three straight games to the Flyers to fall to 2-3-1 with a 3.86 GAA in six career matchups.
He'll have his hands full with Simon Gagne, whose 27 points lead the Flyers. Gagne has three goals and 10 assists during an eight-game point streak.
The Flyers are 5-1-1 in their last seven road games, and boast an identical record in their last seven visits to Carolina.