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Flyers, Devils set to finish home-and-home series

by Mike G. Morreale
FLYERS (29-25-3) at DEVILS (36-20-2)

Last 10: Philadelphia 6-4-0; New Jersey 3-6-1.

Season Series: Not only will this be the fifth of six meetings this season, but the 100th between the two clubs in New Jersey. The Flyers hold a 3-1-0 lead in the series this campaign with the most recent triumph coming on Monday at Wachovia Center when the club rallied from a two-goal deficit to score a 3-2 victory -- the game-winner coming on the power-play off the stick of forward Mike Richards at 12:02 of the third period. The Devils won the most recent meeting at Prudential Center on Dec. 12, 4-1, when Patrik Elias connected twice and goalie Martin Brodeur stopped 22 of 23 shots.

Big Story: Since making his debut in a Devils jersey on Friday in a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, wing Ilya Kovalchuk has yet to notch that first goal with his new team. Still, Kovalchuk has taken 18 shots while averaging just over 24 minutes of ice time in three games since the Devils acquired him from the Atlanta Thrashers on Feb. 4. Kovalchuk took nine shots against the Flyers on Monday.

"He's trying so much to score and he's squeezing the stick a little bit," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said following his team's loss to the Flyers. "He's so anxious to contribute the way he can, by scoring goals, but his game is fine. It's just a matter of time that he's going to feel better and get better shots."

Team Scope:

Flyers: The Flyers are 12-14-1 on the road this season -- 1-4-0 over their last five away from Wachovia Center. In order for the club to maintain pace with those teams in the Stanley Cup playoff chase, the team must pick up its game away from home and the reason is simple -- the Flyers play five of their next six on the road beginning tonight in Newark.

Devils: The loss to the Flyers on Monday was the Devils' fifth in a row on the road and eighth in their last nine games outside of Prudential Center (1-7-1). In addition to the struggles on the road, the Devils are a collective 4-9-1 over the past 14 games. The team is 4-3 in their last seven contests at Prudential Center.

Who's Hot: Flyers captain Richards has 26 points (six goals) in 32 career games against the Devils and defenseman Kimmo Timonen has notched 14 points (10 assists) in 26 career games.

Injury Report: For the Devils, forward David Clarkson (leg) and defenseman Paul Martin (arm) are out. Defenseman Anssi Salmela, who was also acquired in the deal with the Thrashers with Kovalchuk, was knocked unconscious 1:01 into the second period on a hit by Jeff Carter on Monday and taken off the ice on a stretcher. Lemaire expects to call up another defenseman for Wednesday's rematch while Salmela recuperates. Flyers goalie Ray Emery, who has missed the last three games, is questionable with stiffness in his left hip.

Stat Pack: Flyers center Jeff Carter has played in 271 consecutive games and is just six shy of surpassing Flyers legend Bob Clarke for third all-time in Flyers history. That All-Star ironman list includes Rod Brind'Amour (484), John LeClair (317), Clarke (276) and Carter (270).

Puck Drop: Devils goalie Martin Brodeur has struggled against the Flyers this season. He's 1-3-0 with a .901 save percentage and 3.00 goals-against average in four starts. Overall, Brodeur, who holds NHL career records for games played (1,054), wins (590), shutouts (108) and minutes played (62,222), has won two of his last seven starts (2-4-1).
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