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Flyers go for season sweep of Panthers

by Mike G. Morreale
PANTHERS (35-23-13) at FLYERS (42-22-8)
Last 10: Panthers 6-3-1, Flyers 8-1-1
Season series: This is the fourth and final meeting between the teams and the second in 13 days. The Flyers will be looking to sweep the season series; Philadelphia scored a 5-0 victory March 8 at Wells Fargo Center when Ilya Bryzgalov made 28 saves.
Big story: Bryzgalov hasn't been the only goalie in the Eastern Conference leading his team down the stretch. Panthers goalie Jose Theodore, who stopped six shots in a seven-round shootout victory against the Sabres on Saturday, has won four straight starts. In his past five games (4-0-1), Theodore has surrendered just seven goals while allowing two or fewer in five straight. The Panthers, seeded third in the East, will play in Philadelphia on Tuesday, and then travel to Carolina on Wednesday. The Flyers are fifth in the East -- two points behind fourth-seeded Pittsburgh.
Team Scope:
Panthers: The Panthers, who own a five-point lead on Washington in the Southeast Division, have won four in a row for the first time since late in the 2007-08 season. Florida got back injured forward Kris Versteeg and defenseman Dmitry Kulikov for Saturday's 3-2 shootout win against the Sabres. Kulikov, in fact, scored the game-winning goal in the seventh round of the tie-breaker.
"We're starting to hit our stride," Panthers forward John Madden said. "I've been on plenty of teams heading into the playoffs and it's really crucial to be playing good hockey going into the playoffs, not limping into the playoffs."
Flyers: The Flyers put the finishing touches on a furious rally Sunday when Scott Hartnell scored his 35th of the season with 0.9 seconds left in overtime to give Philadelphia a 3-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the second of the game for Hartnell as the Flyers snapped the Penguins' 11-game win streak; it was the first loss for the Pens since Feb. 19. Claude Giroux had a pair of assists for the Flyers, who were being outshot 27-10 through two periods as the Penguins held a 2-0 lead. Bryzgalov made 38 saves in recording his eighth win in nine starts. Over that stretch, he's yielded two or fewer goals on eight occasions.
Who's hot: Florida's Theodore has gone 7-2-1 in his past 10 games. … Philadelphia's Bryzgalov is 8-0-1 in March, with a 1.22 goals-against average and .960 save percentage; he had a 2.74 goals-against average and .899 save percentage prior to this nine-game run.
Injury report: Flyers defensemen Pavel Kubina (upper body) and Andreas Lilja (throat) and forward Maxime Talbot (upper body) are day-to-day. Forward James van Riemsdyk (broken left foot) is out. … Jack Skille (shoulder), Matt Bradley (upper body) and Scottie Upshall (sports hernia surgery) are on injured reserve for the Panthers.
Stat pack: Flyers left wing Matt Read scored his 20th goal of the season in a shootout loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday to become the first Flyers rookie to hit the 20-goal mark in since Jeff Carter (23) and R.J. Umberger (20) did it in 2005-06. Read is the 16th player in Flyers history to have a 20-goal rookie season, and the sixth in the last 20 years. Eric Lindros holds the rookie record with 41 goals in 1992-93.
Puck drop: The Flyers lead the League in goals scored (228) and goals per game (3.17), and have won five straight at Wells Fargo Center.
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