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Flyers look for payback against Thrashers

by Adam Kimelman
FLYERS (43-19-7) at THRASHERS (29-29-12)

TV -- CSN-PH (HD), FS-S (HD)

Last 10 --
Philadelphia 4-4-2; Atlanta 4-4-2

Season series -- This is the third of four meetings between the teams. They split the first two, but their most recent meeting, this past Saturday, was a memorable one. The Flyers led 3-0 after two periods and 4-2 with 6 1/2 minutes left, but Atlanta scored four goals on 18 shots in the third to force overtime and won it on Ron Hainsey's goal.

Big story -- Will the Flyers arrive more angry or desperate -- or both? They beat the Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday to hold onto their Eastern Conference lead for another day, but Washington is hot on their heels. Just as much, there are surely some lingering bad feelings from the way last Saturday's game went.

The Thrashers will be just desperate, as time is running out on their push for a playoff spot.

Team Scope:

Flyers -- Looking for something to spark his team, coach Peter Laviolette changed around his top two lines Tuesday against the Panthers, starting an all-center line of Claude Giroux between Danny Briere and Jeff Carter. It paid off as Carter scored a pair of goals, giving him a team-high 32.

In the absence of Chris Pronger, he also shuffled his defense around, using six different pairings.

"It's a different look where every once in a while you do that, and by really jamming up those first two lines and the defense back there, it allowed you to push some minutes on guys," Laviolette said.

On defense, Matt Carle and Andrej Meszaros played more than 26 minutes each, while Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen played more than 22 minutes.

Thrashers --
Taking a 2-0 first-period lead on New Jersey on Tuesday had the players feeling good, but those good times ended fast as the Devils scored the next four to hand the Thrashers a crushing loss.

Tim Stapleton and Chris Thorburn scored 1:05 apart late in the period, but that was the final highlight for Atlanta.

The Thrashers momentarily thought they had the game tied in the game's final minute when Evander Kane tipped a Tobias Enstrom shot past Martin Brodeur, but referees immediately waved off the goal, ruling Kane played the puck with a high stick. A video review by the Hockey Operations department in Toronto upheld the call.

"It was weird … we set up the play and it worked," coach Craig Ramsay said. "The (decision) was so disappointing, the fact we didn't get that goal to at least give us a chance."

Who's hot --
Carter has 4 goals in his last four games for the Flyers and 6 goals and 4 assists in his last nine. … Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd had 3 goals and 3 assists in his last five games, and 10 goals and 4 assists in his last 15 games.

Injury report --
Pronger will miss 3-4 weeks following surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand. … Thrashers forwards Patrice Cormier (upper body) and Jim Slater (concussion) are out. Defenseman Freddy Meyer (upper body) also is out.

Stat pack -- The Flyers lead the League with nine players with at least 15 goals this season -- eight have done it with them, plus Kris Versteeg, who had 14 with Toronto and 4 in 14 games with the Flyers.

Puck drop --
Kane has highlight-reel skills, and he gave a glimpse Tuesday against the Devils with his no-look, spinning backhand, cross-zone pass to a streaking Stapleton for the game's first goal.

"I knew what I was doing," Kane told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I saw Tim heading to the net and the defense was pinching off. If I got him the puck, the only way I could do it was the spin-around backhand pass, so I was able to put it on his stick and he made a great play to finish it."
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