Last 10 -- Philadelphia 2-7-1; Tampa Bay 3-6-1
Season series -- It's the second of four meetings this season. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter each scored a pair of goals as the Flyers routed the Lightning 6-2 in Philadelphia on Nov. 2.
Big story -- Life hasn't been particularly festive for either team of late -- the Lightning have slipped to 11th in the Eastern Conference while a coaching change from John Stevens to Peter Laviolette has so far failed to provide any spark for the Flyers, who have plummeted to 14th in the standings. Two points would be a welcome gift for both sides heading into the holiday break.
"We're approaching it as another game but it's a game that, before the break with the couple days off, we obviously would like to win," Philadelphia captain Richards said. "It's a big game for us to try and get our team on track. Whenever you get the opportunity to get a win, it's big for us. We're kind of looking at it as a little bit bigger than normal."
Flyers -- Laviolette is 2-7-1 since taking over behind the bench, following a 4-1 home loss Monday to Florida. Braydon Coburn scored late in the third period, but Philadelphia has been held to one goal or less in eight of its last 12 games. That's staggering for a team that features Richards, Carter, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Chris Pronger and other talented offensive players.
"I look at our team and we're having a hard time scoring goals right now," Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said, "and I look at our roster and wonder why."
Lightning -- At least TampaBay can feel like it's heading in the right direction after snapping an 0-5-1 skid. The Lightning finished off a six-game road trip by beating St. Louis 6-3 on Friday and the New York Islanders 4-2 on Monday. A pair of power-play goals by Ryan Malone in the third period snapped a tie at the Nassau Coliseum.
"This was one of those games we really wanted to dig deep," coach Rick Tocchet said. "It would have been nice to come back home knowing that you have some home games in front of you, in front of the hometown fans and getting closer to that .500 mark. So it was probably a big dig-down deep game for our team right now."
Who's hot -- Malone factored into all four goals in Monday's win and has six points in his last two games for the Lightning. Steven Stamkos has four goals in as many games and six points during that stretch. Martin St. Louis has a goal and four assists in the last two games. Vincent Lecavalier has three goals and seven points in the last four games.
Injury report -- Philadelphia lost goalie Brian Boucher to a cut on his right hand against Florida; he will not play Wednesday. However, forward Darroll Powe is likely to return after missing 16 games with a strained shoulder. Goalie Ray Emery (abdominal surgery) and defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen (sprained left MCL) remain on injured reserve.
TampaBay forward Zenon Konopka (neck/wrist) and defenseman Matt Walker (lower body) are questionable for Wednesday's game.
Stat pack -- Michael Leighton played in four games for the Flyers in the 2006-07 season, posting a 2-2-0 record. The journeyman netminder is back for a second stint after being claimed off waivers from the Hurricanes -- and with Emery and Boucher both out, he'll get the start against the Lightning.
"I don't know how long 'Boosh' is going to be out for, but I just have to work hard and play well. That's all I can do right now," Leighton said.
"I'm definitely looking forward to the opportunity. I didn't really get this opportunity in Carolina. Cam Ward got hurt and they got [Manny] Legace and started him right away. It's definitely a good opportunity for me to just try to prove myself and get back into a little bit of a rhythm again."
Puck drop -- This hardly resembles the Flyers team that manhandled the Lightning at home early in the season. After a couple of big road victories, can Tampa creep closer in the East playoff race?
|J. van Riemsdyk||33||7||13||20||+4||8||2||4|
|M. St. Louis||37||7||34||41||-1||6||3||0|