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Canadiens-Flyers Preview @NHL

The Philadelphia Flyers are hoping that Peter Forsberg can help them salvage the second half of what has been a dismal season.

Forsberg is expected to return Thursday when the NHL-worst Flyers host the Montreal Canadiens.

Forsberg has missed four games with a groin injury, but practiced Wednesday and said that he is ready to go.

"Everything's fine," he said. "And hopefully I'll be in the lineup for a while."

Forsberg has struggled all season to perfect a skate for his balky right ankle, which was surgically repaired last May. He said that his troubles with his skate caused the groin injury.

"Is it a hundred percent? No, it's not a hundred percent," he said. "But I have to play. My hope is that it will get to one hundred percent."

Forsberg has missed 16 games and parts of three others this season, and Philadelphia is 0-13-3 without him. The Flyers (11-28-4) recently completed the worst half-season in franchise history.

"Everything changes when he is in. It's a ripple effect through your lineup. Every line gets stronger," coach John Stevens said. "When you're playing teams like Montreal, which has some depth, he goes a long way toward us figuring out the matchups we want to use."

The Flyers have dropped four straight, including Tuesday's 6-2 loss at Washington. Philadelphia finished a season-high, eight-game trip with a 3-5-0 mark after winning a season-best three straight before the trip.

"Today could have been a real pivotal game for us," Stevens said. "We could have made something out of our trip, but now we go home not feeling so good."

Kyle Calder scored twice in the third period Tuesday for the Flyers, who held an intense meeting before practice on Monday. However, the next day's result left goalie Robert Esche apologizing for his performance.

"We've been struggling all season, and the ownership comes from guys like myself, and it can't happen. ... I'm going to wake up tomorrow and start all over and get back on the horse or whatever, but right now I'm just extremely frustrated and upset," said Esche, who has allowed 13 goals in his last three starts - all losses.

"I apologize to the coaches who had a good game plan and the players who played well."

The Canadiens (24-14-5) snapped a season-high, three-game skid with Tuesday's 4-2 win over Atlanta. Michael Ryder, who was among the slew of Montreal players who were ill with a stomach virus last week, scored twice and had an assist.

"It's good to go out and not feel tired," said Ryder, who had just one goal in his previous seven games. "Definitely it was a hard week for me and some other guys."

Saku Koivu picked up his 500th point with an assist on Ryder's second goal.

Montreal has won two of the three matchups between these teams this season, including a 4-2 victory on Dec. 21 in the most recent meeting.

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