PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers will end one of their more impressive recent homestands Monday against the Los Angeles Kings.
They won their first three games, beating the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues; when you add in their sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins the previous weekend, that's five straight wins against top-level opposition.
The focus Monday is to finish this stretch as strongly as possible.
"It's really big," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "We've been playing good teams and L.A. is up there [in the standings]. The way they play, they play a physical game defensively. I think if we're not responsible defensively they're going to score a lot of goals on us. We have to make sure we're responsible like we've been the last few games."
Adding to the emotion of the game Monday is the return of former Flyers stalwarts Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. It will be Richards' second game in Philadelphia since the June 2011 trade that sent him to Los Angeles, but it will be Carter's first as an opponent in Philadelphia. Carter was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets the same day Richards was sent to the Kings, but when the Blue Jackets visited Philadelphia on Nov. 5, 2011, Carter was out with a broken right foot.
"Feels like a while," Carter said of his departure from Philadelphia. "It's been three years probably. Just kind of weird that it's taken this long to get back and play here. I'm looking forward to it. Should be good."
The Kings practiced in Philadelphia on Sunday, so Carter and Richards had the chance to catch up with former teammates, and a few more pleasantries were exchanged during the morning skates Monday. However, that all ends when the puck drops Monday night.
"It's always nice to catch up with old friends that you played with or know from back home, things like that," Flyers forward Scott Hartnell said. "You're friends this morning and [Sunday], but when the puck is in the corner I'm sure it's going to be a battle."
Joining the Flyers for their battle will be forward Tye McGinn, who was recalled from Adirondack of the American Hockey League on Sunday to replace forward Steve Downie, who is out with an upper-body injury sustained Saturday against the St. Louis Blues.
McGinn has three goals in eight games this season, but last played for the Flyers on Jan. 12. It's likely he slots in Downie's spot at right wing alongside Sean Couturier and Matt Read.
"He's a big guy, goes to the net, got good hands around the net," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "Scored some goals up here for us. We like his size, he's good around the net."
The Flyers also will go with backup Ray Emery in goal. In five career games against the Kings, Emery is 2-0-1 with a 1.55 goals-against average and .955 save percentage. In 13 games against the Kings, starter Steve Mason is 6-7-0 with a 3.08 GAA and .892 save percentage, but when the teams played Feb. 1 in Los Angeles, Mason had 35 saves in a 2-0 Flyers victory.
"Ray played a big game against Chicago [March 18]," Berube said. "Just his turn. … We have two goalies. We've used them all year and we'll continue."
The Kings will have captain Dustin Brown in the lineup. He sustained an upper-body injury in the second period of the Kings' game Saturday at the Florida Panthers after a collision with Panthers defenseman Dylan Olsen. Brown was a full participant in the morning skate and said he was ready to play if coach Darryl Sutter wanted him in the lineup.
"I just got kind of reverse shouldered," Brown said. "More precautionary [leaving the game] than anything. I tried to hit Olsen in the corner and he was just ready for me."
Here are how the lines for the Kings and Flyers likely will look Monday:
Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli
Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Mike Richards - Trevor Lewis
Jake Muzzin - Drew Doughty
Slava Voynov - Robyn Regehr
Alec Martinez - Willie Mitchell
Scratched: Matt Greene, Jordan Nolan
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek
Vincent Lecavalier - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Tye McGinn
Zac Rinaldo - Michael Raffl - Adam Hall
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Mark Streit - Nicklas Grossmann
Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn
Scratched: Jay Rosehill, Erik Gustafsson, Hal Gill
Injured: Steve Downie (upper body)