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Flyers aim to rebound against Lightning

by Frank Mentesana
FLYERS (21-9-4) at LIGHTNING (14-17-3)


Last 10: Philadelphia 7-2-1; Tampa Bay 3-6-1.

Season series: This is the third of four meetings between these Eastern Conference foes, who have split the first two games. The home team has been victorious in each matchup, but the Flyers have earned an extra point since their loss came in overtime. The game on Nov. 9 at Tampa Bay began with the now-infamous 1-3-1 drama (or lack thereof) and ended with Brett Connolly's goal 2:30 into OT to give the Lightning a 2-1 win. On Dec. 10 in Philadelphia, six different Flyers notched two points each and Philly used three second-period tallies to defeat the Bolts 5-2.

Big Story: The Flyers, 1-2-1 since a seven-game winning streak, enter this game in second place in the Atlantic division after surrendering the top spot to the Rangers by falling to New York, 4-2, on Friday. Tuesday's contest marks the fourth of five straight games away from the City of Brotherly Love, as Philly's next home game will be the 2012 Bridgestone Winter Classic on Jan. 2. The Lightning will play just their fourth home game of the month when they host Philadelphia, as they begin a three-game homestand following a 1-1-1 road trip. They have earned points in three of their last four and currently sit 13th in the East with 31 points, eight behind Ottawa for the eighth spot.
Team Scope:

Flyers: In the last meeting with the Rangers before the teams collide at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia sorely missed forward Danny Briere, who sat out with a bruised hand. It took the Flyers over 50 minutes to solve Henrik Lundqvist -- but they were already in a 3-0 hole by that point. The Flyers controlled play in the first period -- holding the Blueshirts without a shot on goal for nearly the first 15 minutes -- but couldn't take advantage and then allowed two almost-identical goals on deflections in the second to fall behind for good. A one-time blast by Andrej Meszaros with 9:39 left in the third cut Philly's deficit to 3-1, but New York responded less than four minutes later to suppress any thoughts of a Flyers' comeback.
The loss dropped Philadelphia to 7-2-1 in their last 10 road games, with both regulation defeats coming at Madison Square Garden. Overall, the Flyers are 13-4-2 away from home, which is still tops in the League.

"I don't think that they're better than us, they're just more effective than us," said former Ranger Jaromir Jagr, who was mostly booed in his first game at MSG since May 1, 2008. "We have to learn from that."

Lightning: After a 7-2 drubbing in San Jose on Wednesday, the Lightning responded with a solid showing in Denver on Friday, though it was in another losing effort. The Bolts fell to the Avalanche 2-1, as Matt Duchene sneaked a sharp-angle shot past Mathieu Garon with 1:22 left in OT. The goal soured what was a good bounce-back start for Garon, who was pulled after giving up three goals on eight shots in 6:21 against the Sharks.

Pavel Kubina gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead late in the opening period with his second tally of the season -- and his first since Oct. 22 -- but the Lightning failed to build on it. They were 0-for-3 with the man advantage, and are 3-for-33 on the power play over their last 10 road games.
"We're losing our games because we can't get that power-play goal," coach Guy Boucher said. "The power play on the road has been horrendous."

Who's Hot: Claude Giroux had a six-game point-streak snapped against the Rangers, but still has five multi-point games out of his last nine. Scott Hartnell has a goal and four assists over his last three games. … Martin St. Louis has a point in each of his two games since returning from an eye injury. Center Dominic Moore has points in five of his last seven (two goals, three assists).

Injury Report: Briere, Sean Couturier (concussion) and Brayden Schenn (concussion) all skated with the team in Monday's practice, although Couturier wore the yellow "no contact" jersey. Defensemen Chris Pronger (concussion), Erik Gustafsson (wrist) and Blair Betts (knee) remain sidelined. … For the Lightning, Matt Gilroy and Nate Thompson are both day-to-day with lower-body injuries, while Ryan Shannon (lower body) is out for 2-4 weeks and Mattias Ohlund (knee) is on Injured Reserve.

Stat Pack: Prior to Friday's overtime loss, the Lightning had won six games in a row that went past regulation as well as all four of their games that were decided in OT. … Philadelphia leads all NHL teams with 40 first-period goals.

Puck Drop: Going back to last season, the Flyers have dropped four straight meetings to the Rangers. Philly has also been outscored 13-2 in losing its last three games at MSG, but can gain a substantial measure of revenge when the teams lock up Monday afternoon in an entirely different venue.

"I think it (Friday’s loss) builds up for the Winter Classic," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "We're looking forward to that. We've got a few games we need to take care of before that. The Rangers are a good team. We've had a good year. It probably does add a little fuel."

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