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Flyers make rare visit to Nashville

by Adam Kimelman

FLYERS (26-12-4) at PREDATORS (24-15-4)


Last 10:
Philadelphia 6-4-0; Nashville 7-3-0

Season Series: This is the first of two meetings between the teams this season. In their only meeting of 2010-11, Ville Leino's second goal of the game broke a 2-2 third-period tie and gave the Flyers a 3-2 victory in Philadelphia on Feb. 3.

Big Story: Nashville's 13 home wins are tied for third-most in the Western Conference, while Philadelphia's 16 road wins are tied for the most in the League.

Team Scope:

: Has another strong start earned Sergei Bobrovsky more time in goal?

Bobrovsky, expected to be the backup to expensive addition Ilya Bryzgalov, stopped 33 shots Thursday in the Flyers' 3-2 road win against the Islanders. It was his second straight win and fourth in five starts. In his last eight games (six starts), Bobrovsky is 5-1-0 with a 1.95 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.

Bobrovsky set the tone early against the Islanders, stopping Michael Grabner's penalty shot just 2:49 into the game.

"He was amazing," teammate Maxime Talbot told "He won the game for us. He made the big saves at the right moments and he's a big reason we won the game."

Coach Peter Laviolette, as is his norm, refused to name any starter for Saturday's game, but in the past he's shown a propensity to stick with a hot hand, regardless of position. So it wouldn't be a surprise to see Bobrovsky make a third straight start.

Predators: Nashville forward Sergei Kostitsyn is believer in quality, not quantity. On Thursday against Colorado, Kostitsyn scored on his only shot. On New Year's Day against the Flames, he had a hat trick on just three shots.

Kostitsyn has four goals this month on just six shots. That pickiness is a reason he's third in the League in shooting percentage (22.5 percent) among players with more than 10 shots this season.

Kostitsyn has nine goals this season on just 40 shots, and for his career, he has 56 goals on just 316 shots in five seasons with the Canadiens and Predators, for a career shooting percentage of 17.8.

So should Kostitsyn shoot more? Of the top 20 goal-scorers in the League this season, only five players have shooting percentages better than Kostitsyn's career average.

Who's Hot: Flyers rookie forward Sean Couturier has goals in three straight games. … After scoring just one point in 10 games, Predators forward Patric Hornqvist has three goals and two assists in his last five games.

Injury Report: Outside of long-term injuries to defenseman Chris Pronger (concussion) and center Blair Betts (knee), the Flyers are fully healthy. … Predators center Jerred Smithson is questionable with a lower-body injury.

Stat Pack : Bobrovsky's penalty-shot stop Thursday was the first by a Flyers goalie since Dec. 2, 2008, when Martin Biron stopped Ryan Malone. Opponents had scored on five consecutive penalty shots since then.

Puck Drop: The Flyers visit Nashville so infrequently, it makes those rare trips that much more fun for Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen, both of whom started their NHL careers with the Predators.

"It actually feels like coming home," said Timonen, who spent time chatting with Preds coach Barry Trotz after the Flyers practiced at Bridgestone Arena on Friday. "I have so many good memories from this rink and this team and this coaching staff and everything."

Hartnell made his NHL debut with the Predators at age 18, just months after the team selected him with the sixth pick of the 2000 NHL Draft.

"it's pretty neat," Hartnell said of his second trip to Nashville as a visiting player. "It brings back a lot of great memories Being here as a young kid, growing up here, the city was awesome. The people down here are super nice. I miss the city a the hockey world you've got to move on some times. It's nice to enjoy the city, but I try and come back once a summer to get my fill of honky tonk and see some old friends."

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