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Flyers aim to get back on track vs. Panthers

by Adam Kimelman
FLYERS (42-19-7) at PANTHERS (28-32-9)

TV -- CSN-PH (HD), FS-F (HD)

Last 10 --
Philadelphia 4-4-2; Florida 3-5-2

Season series --
This is the fourth and final time these teams will play this season. The Flyers have taken two of the three games, including their most recent meeting, a 4-2 win in Florida on Feb. 16. In that one, Mike Richards and Andreas Nodl scored 65 seconds apart as Philadelphia jumped to a 3-0 lead after two periods.

Big story -- What's happened to the Flyers? Philadelphia still leads the Eastern Conference, but since the last time they played Florida, they're just 4-5-2, including Saturday's third-period collapse against the Thrashers, where they blew a 3-0 lead en route to a 5-4 overtime loss.

The Panthers' playoff hopes have faded, but they're still playing hard, having won two of their last three and picking up points in four of their last five.

Team Scope:

Flyers -- Coach Peter Laviolette didn't need to scream at his players following Saturday's awful home loss to the Thrashers. The players were angry enough on their own.

Ville Leino, who had his first hat trick, called it "an embarrassment." Danny Briere called the Flyers' inability to close out a game they led 4-2 with 6 1/2 minutes left "scary."

"The frustrating part is that it has been going on now for most of the year," Briere said. "It seems like we can't lock up games. A lot of times we're able to over-compensate because we can score a lot of goals and somehow find a way to get another one.  But we're losing tight games. I don't know how to explain it. It's something we have to fix before the playoff run."

Panthers --
For the second season in a row Niclas Bergfors was moved around the NHL trade deadline. And for the second season in a row he's making his new team very happy.

Bergfors went from New Jersey to Atlanta in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal last season, but things didn't go as well with the Thrashers this season, and he was dealt to Florida on Feb. 28. In seven games with the Panthers, he has 1 goal and 4 points.

"Bergy sees the ice really well, is good in the corners, good down low, protects the puck well and can score," linemate Stephen Weiss told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "You can't find young guys like that too easily."

Who's hot --
Flyers forward Claude Giroux has points in three straight games and has 12 points in his last 10 games. … Panthers forward David Booth has goals in four of his last five games.

Injury report --
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger is day-to-day with an injured right hand. … Panthers center Scott Timmins is questionable after suffering a concussion last Thursday against the Senators. Defenseman Alexander Sulzer is out with an oblique injury. Forward Jack Skille (sprained ankle) is out, but the Miami Herald reported he skated Saturday and could return this month.

Stat pack --
The last time the Flyers had a three-goal lead entering the third period and lost was Nov. 21, 1987, when they led the New York Islanders 4-1 after two periods and lost 6-4.

Puck drop --
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said there's no reason to shut down Pronger for any length of time due to the hand injury that's kept him out for the last two games.

"Chris wants to play and when he can play, he'll play," Holmgren told reporters Saturday.

He said X-rays and MRIs taken of Pronger's hand have shown no damage, and he's seen two hand specialists.

Holmgren knows Pronger's importance to the team, but if he has to miss another game or two, he's not worried.

"Not at all," Holmgren said. "Some of that is because of our depth on defense. I happen to like it when (Andrej) Meszaros and (Braydon) Coburn play more minutes. I don't think that's an issue."
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