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Conference-leading Flyers head to Florida

by Brian Compton
FLYERS (37-14-5) at PANTHERS (24-24-7)

TV -- CSN-Philadelphia, Fox Sports-Florida

Last 10 -- Philadelphia 7-3-0; Florida 3-4-3.

Season series -- This is the third of four meetings between the teams. Florida avenged a 5-2 loss to Philadelphia on Nov. 13 when it cruised to a 5-0 victory on Dec. 20 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Big story -- Just one day after being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs, winger Kris Versteeg made his Flyers debut Tuesday night and helped his new club earn a 4-3 shootout victory at Tampa Bay. Versteeg, who was sent to Philadelphia on Monday in exchange for first- and third-round draft picks, had two shots on goal and three hits in 17:44.

"My heart was beating pretty quick out there," Versteeg told "I think once things settled down and the heart started beating a little slower, it just felt quite a bit better.

"They're a tough team to play against. They sit back quite a bit and you want them to come to you. We did a good job of being patient and really executing a game plan."

Team Scope:

Flyers -- It was a playoff-type atmosphere at the St. Pete Times Forum on Tuesday night, but that didn't prevent the Flyers from increasing their lead atop the Eastern Conference to five points over the Bolts. The game wasn't decided until Kimmo Timonen scored in the seventh round of the shootout as the Flyers improved to 18-6-3 on the road.

"We had some games that could have gone either way," Flyers goalie Brian Boucher said. "For confidence purposes, it's nice to get a win against them. Had we lost to them, would it have mattered? I don't know, but it's nice to get a win."

Panthers -- Florida enters Wednesday's action with some momentum as well after it earned a 3-2 victory against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at the BankAtlantic Center. Jason Garrison snapped a tie with 2:01 left in the third period as the Panthers put an end to a five-game home losing streak.

"It definitely feels good," forward Chris Higgins said. "We've played a lot of one-goal games and it seems like we've been on the losing half in a lot of them -- at least it feels that way. But to come back, especially to score two big goals in the third definitely feels good. We definitely needed points."

Who's hot -- Flyers forward Claude Giroux had an assist Tuesday night, giving him 13 assists and 16 points over his last 13 games. … Higgins has two goals in his last four contests for Florida.
Injury report -- Ian Laperriere (post-concussion syndrome) is out for the Flyers. … Florida is missing Shawn Matthias (ankle), Byron Bitz (sports hernia) and Evgeny Dadonov (broken finger). Bryan McCabe (broken jaw, finger) and Dmitry Kulikov (ankle) are questionable.

Stat pack -- Philadelphia is 27-3-2 when scoring the game's first goal. … Panthers forward Cory Stillman is expected to play in his 1,000th NHL game Wednesday night.

Puck drop -- "I think this is a great opportunity. We're playing the best teams in the League and we're going to find out where we're at. It's a great challenge for us, and I'm looking forward to it. It should be a lot of fun." -- Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver
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