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Flyers-Blackhawks Preview @NHLdotcom
Flyers-Blackhawks Preview

GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (27-9-6) at Chicago Blackhawks (14-24-4).

TIME: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Despite snapping their longest losing streak in nearly 55 years, things won't get easier for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago looks for just its second win in 12 games against the Atlantic Division-leading Philadelphia Flyers when the teams meet for the only time during the regular season.

The Blackhawks are 1-11-0 against the Flyers since a 2-2 tie Jan. 22, 1996 in Chicago. The only win in that stretch came with a 2-1 victory Nov. 6, 2001, also at the United Center. The Blackhawks have been held to two goals or fewer in 11 of the 12 games against the Flyers.

Chicago is looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since a season-high three-game run from Nov. 13-19. Kyle Calder's fluke goal 2:01 into overtime gave the Blackhawks a 4-3 win Tuesday over the Washington Capitals.

The win was Chicago's first since a 5-1 victory Dec. 16 over the St. Louis Blues and ended the Hawks' longest losing streak since a 12-game skid to end the 1950-51 season.

"We've played well enough in a lot of the games that we've lost. This maybe wasn't our best, but it was a win," Blackhawks coach Trent Yawney said.

Calder scored the game-winner after arriving at the net at the same time as Washington defenseman Shaone Morrisonn and a shot by Chicago's Tyler Arnason. Calder managed to get the puck past goaltender Olaf Kolzig, and the goal stood after a replay review.

It was Calder's third goal in seven games after failing to score in 11 straight.

Philadelphia will try to overtake the Ottawa Senators and move back atop the Eastern Conference. The Flyers begin play tied with the Carolina Hurricanes, and one point behind Ottawa for the top spot.

The Flyers had picked up at least one point in 14 straight games before Monday's 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Philadelphia also had a point in 17 of its previous 19 games, and had not lost in regulation since falling Dec. 15 to the Vancouver Canucks.

"When you play a team like this, it's the first team to crack, and it was us tonight," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I don't think we played with the emotional level that we have at times. A lot of that is New Jersey. They play a very methodical game and they take the emotion out of it."

The loss dropped Philadelphia to 7-1-1 on its franchise-record 11-game road trip, which ends Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Simon Gagne needs one goal to join Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers as the only 30-goal scorers in the league this season. Gagne has three goals and two assists in five career games against the Blackhawks, inlcuding a two-goal game on Jan. 25, 2001.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 60 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Blackhawks - 32 points, 3rd place, 27 PB, Central Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Gagne, 29 goals; Peter Forsberg, 42 assists and 56 points; Mike Knuble, 52 PIM. Blackhawks - Mark Bell, 16 goals; Tyler Arnason, 21 assists and 31 points; Barnaby and Todd Simpson, 104 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Flyers - Power play: 18.5 percent (48 for 259), 10th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.8 percent (201 for 252), 26th. Blackhawks - Power play: 12.9 percent (31 for 240), 29th (tied). Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (268 for 314), 3rd (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Antero Niittymaki (16-5-4, 2 SO, 2.63 GAA); Jamie Storr (no appearances). Blackhawks - Craig Anderson (2-7-1, 0, 3.88); Adam Munro (1-0-0, 0, 2.90).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Feb. 24, 2004; Flyers, 3-1. At Philadelphia, Alexei Zhamnov and Tony Amonte scored second-period goals for the Flyers, who got 27 saves from Sean Burke. Scott Nichol scored for Chicago.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 14-4-3 on the road; Blackhawks - 7-10-1 at home.

Associated Press

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