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Flyers get road trip started against Predators

by Brian Hunter

FLYERS (11-12-2) at PREDATORS (13-11-2)


Last 10: Philadelphia 7-2-1; Nashville 5-5-0

Season series: This is the first of two meetings between the Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators. In their most recent matchup, on Feb. 2, 2012, Wayne Simmonds scored twice as the Flyers claimed a 4-1 win at Wells Fargo Center.

Big story: Philadelphia is surging, and goaltending is a key reason for the turnaround from October to November. Steve Mason, who started and beat the Winnipeg Jets on Friday, has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of eight starts and is 5-1-2 over that span. Ray Emery gave up three goals Wednesday in a loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, but allowed just four goals in his previous four starts. Nashville, meanwhile, has been in good hands since installing Czech rookie Marek Mazanec as its starter.

Team Scope:

Flyers: The start time Saturday should seem a bit more normal after Philadelphia took the ice for an 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time start against the Jets on Friday. There was no post-Thanksgiving, too-much-turkey lethargy in the Flyers, though, as Scott Hartnell's goal 48 seconds into the first period set the tone.

Sean Couturier's offensive game hasn't developed from his rookie season the way the Flyers would have hoped, but as a mainstay on their penalty kill he ended up netting the game-winner in the second with a shorthanded goal. Mason carried a shutout until 7:07 left in the third.

"This is a huge stretch for us," Hartnell said of the Flyers' upcoming six-game road trip. "We're going to look back at this season and say that December was a huge month for us."

Predators: Offense continues to be a hit-or-miss proposition for Nashville, which was shut out for the fourth time in November and sixth time this season in a 3-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday. It was the second time in three games the Predators were blanked on home ice.

On the bright side, Mazanec turned in another top-notch performance in defeat, stopping 25 of 27 shots. Mazanec hasn't allowed more than two goals in his past seven games, with a pair of shutouts over that span. Overall, he sports a sparkling 2.01 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

"We get into a little bit of a rhythm where we score a lot of goals for a few games and then we get shut out," rookie defenseman Seth Jones said in The Tennessean. "We've got to eliminate these out of our game. When we're having a good streak we tend to maybe take shortcuts here and there; maybe get away from what we do best. If we get rid of those games, we'll be just fine."

Who's hot: Flyers forward Claude Giroux was held off the score sheet Thursday but has three goals and seven assists in his past 10 games.

Injury report: Nashville defenseman Shea Weber (facial laceration) left the game Thursday, while forwards Patric Hornqvist (upper body) and Filip Forsberg (upper body) were not in the lineup. Goalie Pekka Rinne (hip) is on injured reserve.

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