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Flyers aim to continue road success at Colorado

by Frank Mentesana
FLYERS (20-8-3) at AVALANCHE (15-17-1)


Last 10: Philadelphia 8-2-0; Colorado 5-5-0.

Season series: Monday's matchup is the lone meeting this season between these clubs. The last time they squared off was in Philadelphia's home opener last season, on Oct. 11, 2010. After raising their Eastern Conference championship banner, the Flyers doubled up the Avalanche 4-2 behind 25 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky.       

Big Story: Philadelphia will put a five-game road winning streak on the line Monday in Colorado, where the Avs have won five straight since late November at the Pepsi Center. While those streaks suggest equal footing, it is the other games that separate these teams in their respective playoff standings. Philadelphia had won seven in a row overall before Saturday's loss to Boston, while Colorado has lost nine straight on the road.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Philadelphia put its streak on the line Saturday against Boston, a team who knows something about sustained success. The B's pummeled the Flyers, 6-0, setting the tone with four goals in the first period including a Benoit Pouliot strike just 27 seconds in. Like Bruins goals, frustrations exploded early and often, as the teams combined for 105 penalty minutes.
"We weren't as sharp as we had been, whether it was line changes or coverage, assignments, whether it might be against a team that was here waiting, eyeballing us," coach Peter Laviolette said. "It was a tough day for us, not typical of the way we were playing or executing."

The injury bug is hitting the Flyers hard. Offensive force Claude Giroux is out indefinitely, captain Chris Pronger will miss the season and Brayden Schenn is sidelined with a mild concussion. Now you can add Sean Couturier to that list of injury concerns. Philadelphia's top draft pick last June, Couturier was struck in the back of the head by teammate Kimmo Timonen's shot during the first period Saturday.

Avalanche: Colorado rebounded from its ninth straight road loss by beating Washington – a team that had been clicking recently – 2-1 on defenseman Erik Johnson's first goal of the season.
"It started that we were good on the road and not so good at home. Now we haven't been as good on the road and better at home," Johnson said. "It's just the nature of the beast, the nature of the game sometimes. When we play a full 60-minute game, it makes a difference. We've been doing that lately."

Johnson also assisted on the other goal for an Avalanche team looking to win six in a row at home for the first time since Oct. 1-Nov. 6, 2009.

Who's Hot: Philadelphia's Matt Carle had a four-game points streak (1 goal, 6 assists) snapped against Boston. … Johnson has a three-game points streak, with assists in each and a goal against Washington to break his season total to 13 points.

Injury Report: Andreas Lilja (high ankle sprain) might be activated for Monday's game. Defenseman Eric Gustafsson (right wrist surgery) will miss 6-8 weeks. … Kevin Porter is probable for the Avs after serving a four-game suspension. Kyle Quincey and David Jones are questionable for Monday's game with groin injuries, while Semyon Varlamov (sore back) will be available. Chuck Kobasew (head), Brandon Yip (groin), Ryan Wilson (head), Peter Mueller (concussion) and Mark Olver (head) are all on injured reserve.
Stat Pack: Jean-Sebastien Giguere wrapped up the win in net on Saturday, but Colorado might turn to Varlamov for Monday's contest. It would be just his second start against Philadelphia – he was pulled from his first while with the Capitals – and he would look to improve his recent run in which he has gone 1-3-0 with a 4.63 goals-against average.

Puck Drop: "We still don't know. Fortunately, it hit him in the helmet. But we thought it was best to send him to the hospital and get him checked. The little testing they do, he did really well. I think that's more checking for any damage to his skull and taking a look to see if there's any internal damage."– Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren on Sean Couturier's head injury

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