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Canucks back home to face improved Flyers

by Sean McCullen

FLYERS (18-16-4) at CANUCKS (23-11-6)


Last 10: Philadelphia 5-3-2; Vancouver 8-1-1

Season series: This is the final game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks, who won 3-2 in Philadelphia on Oct. 15. Ryan Kesler broke a 2-2 tie with 2:35 left in the third period to complete the Canucks' rally from a 2-1 deficit after two periods.

Big story: The Canucks will face a Flyers team that is much-improved from the one they defeated at Wells Fargo Center in mid-October. The Flyers were 1-5-0 heading into that game, on the way to a franchise-worst 1-7-0 start, but have gone 17-10-4 since.

Vancouver enters the game as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, particularly at home. The Canucks are 10-1-1 overall and 6-0-0 at Rogers Arena in December.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Philadelphia opened its six-game road trip by rallying from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 in a shootout Saturday night.

Coach Craig Berube wants his team to play a more disciplined game the rest of the trip.

"You can't make risky plays at times and turning pucks over and stuff," he told the Flyers website Sunday. "You're not going to win hockey games if you do that. You can't give freebies to teams, especially with skill. You know, like [Monday] night playing Vancouver, with the skill they have, you've gotta be good with the puck, and the puck has to go in deep or, you know, has to go on net. You turn pucks over and take bad penalties, it'll cost you hockey games."

After leaving Vancouver, Philadelphia plays the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes and New Jersey Devils on the road before returning to Wells Fargo Center for a game against the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 8.

The Flyers are 4-1-0 in their past five games.

Canucks: Vancouver defeated the Calgary Flames 2-0 Sunday night. It was the Canucks' first game since a 2-1 home win against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 22.

"We got a long break, but the points are just as important as they are in late March and early April, and these points are going to stick with us to the end," said Jannik Hansen, who scored the Canucks' first goal. "If you look at the standings, it's extremely tight. If you're not stringing wins together, you're not going anywhere. We've played a tremendous December, and we're still fourth in our division. It takes a lot of wins and it takes a team effort to get them on a nightly basis."

Rookie goalie Eddie Lack made 18 saves Sunday to earn his second shutout. It was Lack's first start since Roberto Luongo sustained a lower-body injury Dec. 22. The 25-year-old Swedish goalie is 7-2-0 and has won five straight decisions.

Who's hot: Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds has scored two goals in each of the past three games. He's the first Flyers player to score two goals in three straight games since Reggie Leach in 1981. Forward Claude Giroux has 10 points (three goals) his past five games. … Hansen has three goals in Vancouver's past six games.

Injury report: Flyers defenseman Erik Gustafsson (knee) is on injured reserve. … Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts (undisclosed) left the game Sunday against Calgary in the first period following a hit by Brian McGrattan and did not return. Luongo (lower body), defensemen Alexander Edler (lower body) and Ryan Stanton (ankle) and forwards Alexandre Burrows (jaw) and Jordan Schroeder (ankle) are on IR.

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