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Though the Philadelphia Flyers are among the best teams in the Eastern Conference, and the Los Angeles Kings are just fighting to get into the West's crowded picture, neither club is taking its current position for granted.
Both teams look to improve their postseason chances Wednesday night, when they match up at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia (32-17-9) used a three-goal third-period surge to beat Southeast Division-leading Washington 4-2 on Tuesday. It was the Flyers' sixth win in eight contests and fourth straight on the road.
They now start play second in the Atlantic and fourth in the East with 73 points. They held a four-point advantage on ninth-place Carolina before the Hurricanes' 4-2 loss at Ottawa later Tuesday.
"I looked at the standings before the game, and we were in the playoffs by only four points, I think," Flyers center Jeff Carter said. "I didn't realize it. I haven't been keeping track. It's definitely an eye-opener. We've got to come out and be ready to go every night."
That could also be the same attitude Los Angeles (26-24-9) has as it tries for its first postseason berth since 2002. It is currently 12th in the tightly-packed West, just four points behind the four teams that are tied for seventh in the standings.
"It's down to crunch time for everybody in the game now," Kings coach Terry Murray said after Tuesday's 2-1 shootout victory at Minnesota that opened a five-game swing.
The Kings are 8-2-0 in their last 10 road contests, but their success in Philadelphia has been rare, as they've been outscored 35-15 while going 1-7-1 there since Jan. 16, 1994. They are also 6-12-1 with a tie in their last 20 against the Flyers, but won 2-1 in a shootout at home on Jan. 3.
Philadelphia has lost four of its last seven at home, but is 15-4-2 there since Nov. 16. It is hoping to add to its win total there behind another solid offensive performance from Carter's line.
Carter was reunited with Scott Hartnell and Joffrey Lupul in the third period Tuesday, and they combined for two goals and four assists.
Carter, who paces the Flyers with 62 points, ended a season-high five-game goal-scoring drought with his 35th of the season, tying New Jersey's Zach Parise for second in the league.
Hartnell had a goal and assist, giving him five and seven in his last 11 games, while Lupul - with two assists against Washington - has four goals and seven assists in his previous 16.
Carter hasn't scored in two career meetings against the Kings, but Hartnell has three goals in his last four against them. Lupul has five goals and seven assists in 17 lifetime matchups, but has been kept off the scoresheet in four straight meetings.
It's possible the Flyers will face rookie Jon Quick in this matchup. Quick, who made 31 saves and stopped both shootout attempts against Philadelphia in January, has started the Kings' last two games.
He made 22 saves and turned aside three of four attempts in the tiebreaker on Tuesday for Los Angeles, which improved to 2-3-2 in its last seven.
"We're in a situation where we need to get points," Murray said. "It was important for us to be aggressive in the overtime and throw everything out there that we could."
Murray's club may again be without captain Dustin Brown, whose wife gave birth to their second child earlier on Tuesday.