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Blue Jackets shoot for second straight, face Flyers

by John McGourty
BLUE JACKETS (18-23-9) at FLYERS (23-21-3)

Last 10 -- Columbus 4-5-1; Philadelphia 6-3-1

Season series -- This is the only meeting of the teams this year. The Blue Jackets won, 3-0, in Columbus last year. That was the Blue Jackets' only victory in eight meetings and they are 0-2-1 in Philadelphia. The Flyers won the last meeting in Philadelphia, 3-2, on Nov. 24, 2006, in former Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock's debut as Columbus coach.

Big story --
Both teams are currently out of a playoff position in their respective conferences, although the Flyers have a more reasonable chance of making the playoffs. They are three points out of a playoff spot while the Blue Jackets are 10 points back. Former Flyers forward R.J. Umberger is tied for second on the Blue Jackets with 15 goals and he's fourth with 32 points.

Team Scope:

Blue Jackets --
The inconsistent Blue Jackets broke a three-game losing streak Monday with a 4-2 win over the Blues. Raffi Torres scored twice and Rick Nash scored his 400th point. The Blue Jackets are 19-3-2 over two seasons when Torres scores. Chris Clark scored his first goal in a Columbus uniform. Free-agent signee Mathieu Garon is 4-2 with a 2.25 goals-against average in his last six starts and is outplaying last year's Calder Memorial Trophy winner, Steve Mason.

Flyers --
After an impressive run that moved them back into playoff contention, the Flyers have lost two in a row and fallen into 11th place in the Eastern Conference. Goalie Ray Emery was in net for Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Capitals, his first game since abdominal surgery in early December. The Flyers should be looking for early vulnerability here. The Blue Jackets have given up the first goal of the game within 2 1/2 minutes in their past three games.

Who's hot --
In addition to Garon, Torres has three goals in his past six games. Umberger has three points in the past two games. Nash has five points in three games. … Flyers right wing Danny Briere has seven points in the past six games. Left wing James van Riemsdyk has eight points in the past seven games. Captain Mike Richards has 13 points in the past 12 games.

Injury report --
Columbus defenseman Rostislav Klesla has been out since Dec. 1 with a torn groin. Left wing Fredrik Modin has missed six games with a foot injury. Defenseman Fedor Tyutin played 132 consecutive games for Columbus before sitting out the Blues game with an undisclosed injury. … Philadelphia defenseman Ryan Parent has missed 11 games with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Danny Syvret has missed three games with an upper-body injury.

Stat pack --
Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger is tied for fifth with 111 blocked shots. Kimmo Timonen of the Flyers is 13th with 97 and Jan Hejda of the Blue Jackets is 14th with 95. But only two teams have blocked fewer shots than the Jackets. No team has coughed up the puck fewer times than league-leading Columbus with only 94 giveaways.

Puck Drop -- Emery will get a second straight start Tuesday as the Flyers attempt to work him back into his early-season form.

"Ray's got to get back in there and get some games, and this is an opportunity for him to jump right back in there," coach Peter Laviolette said. "We need to do a little better job of taking care of the puck in front of him. Some of those goals [Sunday], we put him in a bad position.

"We want to give [Emery] a better game in front of him."

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