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Blue Jackets seek elusive first win in Philadelphia

by Adam Kimelman

BLUE JACKETS (38-30-7) at FLYERS (39-27-9)


Last 10: Columbus 4-4-2; Philadelphia 6-2-2

Season series: It's the fourth and final regular-season game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Philadelphia Flyers. The Blue Jackets won two of the first three games, including a 5-2 victory Jan. 23 in Columbus.

Big story: The Blue Jackets have two wins in their past six games and need to start stringing some wins together if they're going to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in franchise history. Coming to Philadelphia won't be an easy trip -- the Blue Jackets are 0-5 with one tie against the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers will be looking to rebound after back-to-back shootout losses to the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues. Aiding that effort will be the return to the lineup of veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who sat out the game against the Blues with an upper-body injury after being hit in the face by a puck Sunday against the Bruins.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets expected defenseman Ryan Murray to miss 4-6 weeks after he had arthroscopic knee surgery March 7. However, he will make the trip to Philadelphia and could return to the lineup as soon as Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"He's getting close," coach Todd Richards told the Columbus Dispatch. "That's real close."

Murray has 20 points in 61 games and is fourth on the Blue Jackets with an average ice time of 19:47 per game. The 20-year-old has been skating hard with assistant coach Craig Hartsburg and said his knee feels good.

"When I'm out there skating I can't even really tell," Murray told the Columbus Dispatch. "It doesn't hurt. It doesn't feel awkward anymore. It might not be as strong as it was, but it feels solid. It feels good.

"They didn't really have to repair anything. They just took something out. So it's not like something is really trying to heal. It's just kind of the incisions and stuff like that. There is no awkward feeling, no weird feeling, so that is good."

Flyers: The Flyers played back-to-back games against 50-win teams in the Boston Bruins on Sunday and the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Though they didn't win either one, they took both teams to shootouts and earned two crucial points.

"I'm not disappointed," coach Craig Berube told "I can't be. Our team played hard both games. We would have like to have gotten the wins but we didn't. Shootouts are shootouts. We didn't capitalize on some really good opportunities in the game [Tuesday]. If there is one negative thing I would look at, it's that. We had some real good opportunities where [Blues goalie Ryan Miller] stopped us."

The Flyers survived a stretch of 10 games in 18 days against some of the toughest competition in the League with a 6-2-2 record, including a sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a split against the Blues and a win against the Chicago Blackhawks.

"It's good," Berube said of gaining 14 of a possible 20 points. "We've done a good job of staying focused and playing hard, playing with energy. We've got to worry about [Thursday against Columbus]."

Who's hot: Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski has five points in his past four games. … Flyers center Vincent Lecavalier has three goals in his past three games after scoring one in his previous 10.

Injury report: Besides Murray, the Blue Jackets are missing defenseman Nikita Nikitin (lower body) and forward Nathan Horton (lower body). … Flyers forward Steve Downie (upper body) is questionable.


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