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Flyers hope to continue roll against road-weary Stars

by Adam Kimelman
STARS (19-15-11) at FLYERS (22-19-3)

Last 10: Dallas 4-6-0; Philadelphia 7-2-1

Season series:
This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The Flyers won their lone meeting last season, as Simon Gagne had a pair of assists. Mike Modano scored twice for the Stars.

Big Story: After an awful December, the Flyers have started the New Year right, with three wins in their last five games, and seven in their last nine. Have they turned the corner?

Team Scope:

Stars -- If Dallas is to have any hope of fighting its way back into a top-eight spot in the West, winning on the road is a must. But going into Tuesday's game in Philadelphia, the Stars are 0-5-2 in their last seven away from American Airlines Center. But the players are banking on their current three-game trip -- which started Sunday in Columbus and finishes Thursday in Montreal -- as a week-long bonding experience that hopefully will have a positive effect going forward.

"I do think that a road trip like this can turn things around," forward Steve Ott told the Dallas Morning News. "We are going out for a week together, and we understand the importance of these games and I do think we can come together and push together. There's something to that, and we've done that before as a team."

Flyers --
With Ray Emery finally healthy and Brian Boucher available, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette will stick with Michael Leighton in goal Tuesday. It'll be his 10th straight start, and he's certainly earned the work -- he's 7-0-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .931 save percentage.

"I've said it for a week now -- he's earned the right to go back in there and play again," Laviolette told the team's Web site. "He's been solid for us."

At some point GM Paul Holmgren will have to drop one goalie, but he said he'll delay that as long as he can.

"A lot of things fit into the equation here and we’ll see how it goes with Ray," Holmgren told "We will keep the three guys here for the time being."

The odd-man out could be Boucher, who is just 4-11-1 with a 2.84 GAA in 17 games.

Who's Hot --
Flyers linemates Jeff Carter and Danny Briere each have two straight 2-point games. Briere's pair of assists in Thursday's win against Pittsburgh gave him 500 career points. Stars center Brad Richards has 4 points in his last three games. His 2 points against the Islanders on Friday gave him 600 for his NHL career.

Injury Report --
The Stars placed defenseman Nicklas Grossman on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Forward Mike Ribeiro is out 4-6 weeks after suffering a throat contusion that required a tracheotomy Jan. 6 against the Rangers.

Flyers defenseman Ryan Parent will miss his ninth straight game with a back injury, and GM Paul Holmgren said he's going to miss at least another 7-10 days. Fellow blueliner Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, who's played just once since Nov. 7 due to a concussion and a knee injury, is skating but not yet game ready. Emery, who had a conditioning stint over the weekend in his recovery from abdominal-muscle surgery, could be activated by the end of the week.

Stat Pack --
This will be just the fourth time in five seasons these teams have played. Dallas has won two of the previous three meetings.

Puck Drop --
After a miserable December that saw them go 6-8-1 and their coach get fired, the Flyers seem to have found their footing and enter the game a point out of a playoff spot.

"The more games you play, you get more comfortable," right wing Claude Giroux told the Philadelphia Inquirer of the adjustment to Laviolette. "Obviously, you know more what to do. I think we're working the system pretty good now. The guys love it. It's up-tempo. You never stop. It's intensity, and you put pressure on. It's pretty fun. It's fun when you get the puck more."

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