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Flyers-Bruins Preview

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
To view the game notes for tonight's game, click here.

A crushing loss to the Philadelphia Flyers sent the Boston Bruins into a tailspin. Now the Bruins would like to further show their slump is over by avenging that defeat to the Flyers.

Boston blew a two-goal lead in the final 3:35 of regulation at Philadelphia on Nov. 8 and went on to lose 4-3 in overtime.

It turned out to be the first of six consecutive losses for the Bruins, drawing the ire of team owner Jeremy Jacobs. He called the slide, Boston's longest in nine years, very disappointing and questioned his team's desire and worth ethic in a Boston newspaper.

The club responded to that criticism on Wednesday, ending the Toronto Maple Leafs' four-game win streak and outshooting them 37-20 in a 5-1 victory.

"We knew we were on the hot seat," said goalie Andrew Raycroft, who made 20 saves to end a personal six-game losing streak that dated back to Oct. 22.

Asked if there was a feeling of urgency going into the game, Raycroft said: "That's the understatement of the century. It hasn't been too much fun. And not that one win makes it a country club around here, but it gets the monkey off our back."

Glen Murray had two power-play goals in the opening period, when Boston outshot Toronto 18-4. Patrice Bergeron, Shawn McEachern and Sergei Samsonov also scored for the Bruins, who gave up an average of four goals during the six-game skid.

"They played a smart game, and we got rewarded early for their effort which hasn't always been the case this year," Boston coach Mike Sullivan said. "It was a solid effort and it's something we can build on."

The Bruins have scored 13 power-play goals in their last nine games, and now they'll face the league's worst penalty killers.

Philadelphia has given up at least two power-play goals in 12 of its 20 games and has allowed nine in the last five contests, losing four.

The Flyers found a solution to their penalty-killing problems on Tuesday by simply avoiding the penalty box. They faced only two power plays against Tampa Bay, but still lost 4-2 to the visiting Lightning.

"We beat ourselves again," said Jon Sim, who scored for the Flyers. "We've got a great team, but we have to put our work boots and our work hats on and do the digging in. We're not doing that for 60 minutes."

STANDINGS (through Nov. 23): Flyers - 27 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Atlantic Division. Bruins - 21 points, 5th place, 11 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Simon Gagne, 20 goals; Peter Forsberg, 30 assists and 36 points; Joni Pitkanen, 38 PIM. Bruins - Murray, 12 goals; Joe Thornton, 22 assists and 30 points; Jiri Slegr and Hal Gill, 36 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Nov. 23): Flyers - Power play: 21.1 percent (29 for 137), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 75.1 percent (100 for 133), 30th. Bruins - Power play: 20.4 percent (28 for 137), 7th. Penalty killing: 84.5 percent (126 for 149), 7th.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Robert Esche (8-4-2, 0 SO, 3.35 GAA); Antero Niittymaki (4-1-1, 3.61). Bruins - Hannu Toivonen (4-2-3, 3.22 GAA); Raycroft (4-8-2, 3.37).

SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 8; Flyers, 4-3, OT. At Philadelphia, Pitkanen scored the tying goal with 23.4 seconds left and added the winner 1:55 into overtime.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 3-3-1 on the road; Bruins - 4-5-1 at home.
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