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Flyers, minus Carter, pay visit to Senators

by Brian Hunter
FLYERS (37-30-5) at SENATORS (38-30-5)

Last 10: Philadelphia 4-4-2; Ottawa 2-7-1

Season series:
Fourth and final meeting of the regular season. The Senators have won two of the first three matchups, including the most recent, a 7-4 victory at Scotiabank Place on Jan. 3 behind four goals and an assist from Alex Kovalev. Chris Kelly also scored twice in that game. Danny Briere and Darroll Powe pace the Flyers with a pair of goals each.

Big story: Neither team has had an easy go of it lately. The Flyers are only four points ahead of the ninth-place Thrashers and just lost leading scorer Jeff Carter for 3-4 weeks. They also have a pair of goaltenders on the injured list. The Senators had dropped five in a row before responding with a 2-0 win over the Canadiens on Monday. Ottawa leads Philadelphia by two points for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope:

Flyers: Brian Boucher spent portions of this season as the backup to Ray Emery and then Michael Leighton, but he finds himself in the spotlight with both Philadelphia netminders suffering long-term injuries. Boucher won his first start after Leighton went down, 3-2 in Dallas, but found himself on the losing end twice against Atlanta as the Flyers got swept in a home-and-home over the weekend. They tied a season high with 45 shots Sunday but fell 3-1 thanks to the strong play of Ondrej Pavelec in the Thrashers' goal.

"We played hard," Briere told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We showed some urgency. We couldn't get through their goalie."

Brian Elliott was a rock during Ottawa's franchise-record 11-game winning streak earlier in the season, but had his share of struggles along with the rest of the team since play resumed following the Olympics. Elliott was flawless on Monday, however, stopping all 29 shots he faced. Rookie defenseman Erik Karlsson contributed a goal and an assist, while Peter Regin netted the game-winning goal.

"It feels great … obviously the two points, but even more I think the way we played," captain Daniel Alfredsson said. "The way Elliott played was huge for us. I mean that gave us a lot of confidence, and I thought we played really well in front of him as well and really put a lot of pressure on them."

Who's hot: Mike Richards has two goals and two assists in his last four games for the Flyers. … Jason Spezza has 14 goals and 10 assists in 21 games since returning from a knee injury for the Senators.

Injury report: Carter suffered a non-displaced fracture in his left foot and could be out until the first round of the playoffs. Philadelphia would probably have to make a deep playoff run for Leighton to return from a high left ankle sprain, while Emery is out for the season following hip surgery.

Ottawa forward Milan Michalek has missed the last two games with a leg injury while a lower-body injury has sidelined defenseman Filip Kuba for the same amount of time.

Stat pack: Chris Pronger has delivered the goods in his first season with the Flyers. The veteran defenseman has 10 goals and 52 points, as well as a plus-22 rating that leads the team and is tied for 10th best in the League. … Karlsson's two-point effort was the third of his career. He had two-assist games against the Oilers on March 9 and the Canadiens on Jan. 30.

Puck drop: It was a seemingly harmless shot by Atlanta forward Clarke MacArthur that felled Carter, who played the rest of the game Sunday before his foot took a turn for the worse overnight. Now the Flyers have a new obstacle to try to overcome.

"He's a big-time goal scorer that we rely on," Pronger told the Philadelphia Daily News. "I don't think there's anything we can do about it. It's a part of the game that's unfortunate. It happens to every team; there's always injuries to key guys.

"It's up to us to find a way to play without him."

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