DEVILS (14-29-3) at FLYERS (31-11-5)
TV -- MSG PLUS (HD), CSN-PH (HD)
New Jersey 5-4-1; Philadelphia 8-2-0
Season series --
Fifth of six meetings between these Atlantic Division rivals. Philadelphia has won the last three, including the most recent decision on Jan. 8 at Wells Fargo Center when James van Riemsdyk
and Danny Briere
each scored, and Brian Boucher stopped 34 shots in 2-1 triumph.
Big story --
Defenseman Chris Pronger
returned to the Flyers lineup on Thursday in a 6-2 victory over Ottawa, five weeks after breaking his right foot on Dec. 15 against Montreal. Pronger, paired with usual partner Matt Carle
, logged 20:24 of ice time and notched 2 assists. The 36-year-old now has 4 goals and 17 points in 32 games this season.
"Chris was steady as always," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said following the victory. "He gets back in there, makes good decisions, and takes up a lot of space. He had looked good in practice. It's good to get him back going; it's good to get a win with him in there. I thought he did a good job."
After his team lost seven of eight games when he took over as head coach of the Devils, Jacques Lemaire has watched with great pleasure as his team put together a 4-0-1 run in its last five. New Jersey is 5-7-1 since Lemaire took over for the fired John MacLean. Martin Brodeur
made 23 saves in a 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday -- his fourth shutout of the season and 114th of his career.
"It has been a hard season," Brodeur said. "Hopefully, we've turned the page and we're moving on. I know I need to continue to work on the right things in my game to be able to play like that every night."
The Flyers enter their matinee meeting with the Devils in first place in the overall standings with 31 victories and 67 points, tying them for the third-most points in franchise history after 47 games. The Flyers won their fourth straight game on Thursday when Mike Richards had 2 goals and 2 assists -- his second 4-point game of the season -- and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky
made 25 saves in a 6-2 victory over the Senators. The game with the Senators also saw both teams combine for 126 penalty minutes. It marked the most PIM in a game involving the Flyers since they and Pittsburgh combined for 156 PIM in an 8-2 Philadelphia win on Dec. 11, 2007.
Who's hot --
Flyers All-Star forward Claude Giroux
has points in four consecutive games (2 goals, 5 points over that stretch). Briere, who will be joining Giroux at the All-Star Game in Raleigh, N.C., has a point in eight of his last nine games (7 goals, 13 points).
Injury report --
The Devils are without Zach Parise
, Bryce Salvador
and Matt Taormina
. … The return of Pronger now gives the Flyers a healthy lineup.
Stat pack --
The Flyers won their 999th career home game on Thursday and will look to become the first expansion-era team to hit 1,000 home triumphs on Saturday.
Puck drop --
The Flyers will play three games in four days beginning with Saturday's contest against the Devils. The team travels to Chicago on Sunday and returns home to face the Canadiens on Tuesday.
"It's important to take advantage of our home games. I think as far as three (games) in four (days), we have the depth to do so," Richards said. "We play all the guys; four lines, six defensemen. So, I don't think that's going to be a problem."