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Flyers hope to rebound in Carolina

by Adam Kimelman
FLYERS (24-12-4) at HURRICANES (14-22-7)


Last 10: Philadelphia 4-5-1; Carolina 4-4-2.

Season series: This is the fourth and final regular-season game between the teams. The Flyers won the first two games, but in their most recent meeting, Alexei Ponikarovsky had 2 goals and an assist to lead the Hurricanes to a 4-2 win in Philadelphia on Nov. 21.

Big Story: The Flyers have had two-goal leads in three of their last four games, but won just one of them. It could be angry bunch when the puck drops Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Here's a word you rarely hear when describing the Philadelphia Flyers: Soft. But that's just what Danny Briere said of his team's effort Sunday in Ottawa.

"I felt we were too soft," Briere said following Sunday's game. "I hate saying that and it usually doesn't happen with the Flyers, but physically, we got outplayed. Ottawa was running around way too much for my liking."

That lack of toughness was one reason the Flyers couldn't hold a 4-2 lead when the Senators pressed Sunday in the third period, scored four times and skated away with a 6-4 victory.

"Our team, generally speaking, needed to play a better game, a smarter game, against a team that forces a lot of turnovers," said coach Peter Laviolette. "With the lead 4-2, our team needed to make better decisions throughout the game."

"I don't think we played the way we should have and we have to be better if we want to win those kind of hockey games in the third period," added Claude Giroux.

Hurricanes: Carolina learned this past weekend what happens when it plays a fast, physical brand of hockey.

Friday against the Buffalo, they out-hit the Sabres 25-9 and skated away with a 4-2 victory. One night later, they had just nine hits, the same as the Predators, and ended up on the wrong side of a 5-2 decision.

"The message is that when we compete hard, we get certain results," coach Kirk Muller told the team's website. "We've got to do it consistently. It can't depend on what opponent we play against or where we play."

After the win against the Sabres, Muller said there no "passengers," meaning every player factored into the win. A night later against the Predators, that wasn't the same.

"We win together and lose together," said Muller. "We want to be a hard team to play against, and we're not good enough to go out and have some guys not ready to play. As a player, you can't control your ice time or who you play with, but one thing you've got to bring every night is competitive edge."

Who's Hot: Giroux has 3 goals and 4 assists in three games against the Hurricanes this season, and 12 points in 11 career games against Carolina. … Hurricanes defenseman Jay Harrison has 3 goals and an assist in his last four games. He had 2 goals in his previous 29 games.

Injury Report: Outside of long-term injuries to defenseman Chris Pronger (concussion) and center Blair Betts (knee), the Flyers are fully healthy. …  The Hurricanes are missing defenseman Joni Pitkanen (knee/concussion), goalie Brian Boucher (groin) and forward Jeff Skinner (concussion).

Stat Pack: The Flyers are 10-1-1 in their last 11 trips to Raleigh.

Puck Drop: Monday saw Muller put the Hurricanes through a highly physical practice, mostly because he didn't like his team's effort in Saturday's loss to Nashville. Defenseman Tim Gleason sent Brett Sutter flying with one hit, while Chad LaRose banged his head on the cage hard enough he had to leave the ice for medical attention.

One player who didn't get involved in the physicality, though, was Skinner, who skated in a yellow, non-contact jersey.

Muller told the Raleigh News and Observer that Skinner was "closer" to a return to contact, but wasn't there yet, and would miss a 14th straight game Tuesday against the Flyers.

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