Flyers-Red Wings Preview
GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (28-9-6) at Detroit Red Wings (28-12-3).
TIME: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The longest road trip in franchise history is already a success for the Philadelphia Flyers. They can make it more special with a rare victory in Detroit.
The Flyers conclude their 11-game road swing against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, a building where they haven't won in more than 17 years.
Philadelphia is 0-12-2 at Detroit since a 4-3 victory Nov. 4, 1988.
This time, the Flyers might be playing well enough to end the streak. Philadelphia improved to 8-1-1 on the road trip and 9-1-1 in its last 11 overall games with a 5-2 victory Wendesday at Chicago.
Mike Knuble scored on a deflection with 8:33 to play to break a 2-2 tie. The veteran right wing thought his team bounced back well after losing 3-0 Monday in New Jersey.
"We took a step back in New Jersey, a little bump in the road there, but we're not going to get too flustered about it," Knuble said. "I think we challenged ourselves a bit to make sure that guys are chipping in at different times."
Peter Forsberg, the NHL's seventh-leading scorer, did not have a point in the game but nine other Flyers did. Philadelphia outshot the Blackhawks 31-14.
"We looked after the second period and we said it would be a shame to lose this game with all the scoring chances we had," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "The best part of it was four of the goals were scored by people not on Peter (Forsberg's) line. I think that's a great sign for us."
The Central Division-leading Red Wings will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak since Oct. 25-30, 2003. This is Detroit's third consecutive game against another division leader. The Red Wings lost 6-3 Sunday to the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars on Sunday, and fell 3-2 Tuesday at Carolina from the Southeast Division.
In Tuesday's game, the Red Wings had 38 shots on goal but were unable to recover from a three-goal first period deficit.
"You can't count on coming back against a team like that when you're down three goals," defenseman Chris Chelios said.
On a positive note for Detroit, 40-year-old captain Steve Yzerman scored his first goal in four games since returning from a groin injury. Yzerman has 65 points in 43 career games against Philadelphia.
This is the only meeting of the season for the Flyers and Red Wings, currently the top clubs in their respective conferences.
STANDINGS: Flyers - 62 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division. Red Wings - 59 points, 1st place, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Simon Gagne, 29 goals; Forsberg, 42 assists and 56 points; Knuble, 52 PIM. Red Wings - Henrik Zetterberg and Brendan Shanahan, 20 goals; Pavel Datsyuk, 32 assists and 48 points; Chelios, 68 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Flyers - Power play: 18.5 percent (48 for 262), 10th in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.8 percent (201 for 252), 26th. Red Wings - Power play: 24.8 percent (62 for 250), 1st. Penalty killing: 84.2 percent (207 for 246), 9th.
GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Antero Niittymaki (17-5-4, 2 SO, 2.61 GAA); Robert Esche (11-4-2, 0, 3.14). Red Wings - Manny Legace (15-5-0, 3, 2.07); Chris Osgood (12-5-3, 0, 3.01).
2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Red Wings, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 29, 2004; Red Wings, 4-2. At Detroit, Robert Lang had three assists and Mathieu Schneider had one goal and one assist for the Red Wings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 15-4-3 on the road; Red Wings - 14-7-1 at home.