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Flyers-Canucks Preview

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


Injuries have not slowed down the Philadelphia Flyers. The Vancouver Canucks will give it a try.

Philadelphia looks for its 14th win in 17 matchups with Vancouver as the teams face off at the Wachovia Center.

The Flyers are 13-2-1 against the Canucks since Dec. 2, 1993, outscoring them 67-40 in that span. Both losses in that span have come in Philadelphia with the Canucks holding a 9-3 scoring advantage.

Slowly, though, the Flyers are getting healthy players back in the lineup. Robert Esche made 23 saves in his first game after missing four with a groin injury in the Flyers' 3-1 win Wednesday over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Peter Forsberg, Jeff Carter and Sami Kapanen scored in the win. Forsberg has two goals and an assist in two games after missing six with a groin injury.

He has 14 goals and 38 assists in 39 career games against the Canucks.

Still, the Flyers will be without leading scorer Simon Gagne (groin) and defensemen Joni Pitkanen (abdomen) and Eric Desjardins (shoulder).

"I don't know if we're surviving," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When you play with some composure, you're going to win a lot of close games, especially on the road."

The Flyers have won five of their last seven games overall.

Vancouver owns the league's best home record, but has struggled on the road. The Canucks snapped a season-high three game road losing streak with a 3-2 win Tuesday over the New York Rangers.

Matt Cooke returned from a 17-game absence with a broken jaw to score the game-winner with 4:31 to play.

"Any time I can help chip in on the offensive side of the game, it's huge for us. Not just when I am coming back from injury," Cooke said.

With starting goaltender Dan Cloutier expected to miss the rest of the regular season with a knee injury, the Canucks for now will go with the combination of Alex Auld and Maxime Ouellet.

Auld's 11 wins are second in the league among rookie goaltenders behind Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.

If Ouellet makes his Canucks' debut, he would face the team that drafted him 22nd overall in the 1999 draft. Ouellet is 2-4-1 with a 2.99 goals-against average in eight games with the Flyers and Washington Capitals.

STANDINGS: Canucks - 40 points, 1st place (tied), Northwest Division. Flyers - 40 points, 2nd place, 4 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canucks - Markus Naslund, 16 goals and 34 points; Naslund and Henrik Sedin, 18 assists; Wade Brookbank, 63 PIM. Flyers - Gagne, 23 goals; Forsberg, 32 assists and 42 points; Donald Brashear, 41 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 14): Canucks - Power play: 16.5 percent (34 for 205), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 83.3 percent (150 for 180), 11th. Flyers - Power play: 18.6 percent (35 for 188), 12th. Penalty killing: 78.0 percent (142 for 182), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Canucks - Auld (11-6-1, 0 SO, 2.58 GAA); Ouellet (no appearances). - Esche (11-4-2, 0, 3.05); Antero Niittymaki (7-3-2, 1, 2.94).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 13, 2003; Flyers, 4-3. At Philadelphia, Gagne scored the game-winning goal, added an assist and Esche made 29 saves as the Flyers won their fifth straight.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canucks - 6-8-2 on the road; Flyers - 12-4-2 at home.
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