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NHL Stadium Series

Flyers seek offense, victory in Stadium Series

Hope to start another late-season push with game against Penguins

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PITTSBURGH -- The Philadelphia Flyers are excited to take part in the 2017 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, but they're treating it as more than a fun time outdoors.

The Flyers are five points out of a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 22 games remaining, making the two points at stake against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, NHL.TV) vital to them.

"It's a normal hockey game, not an exhibition," forward Jakub Voracek said. "Everybody's a professional here. We know we have a lot on the line tomorrow."

A key for the Flyers will be rediscovering their offense. In 10 games since the All-Star break they have 15 goals and have scored one goal or fewer six times. They're 3-6-1 during that span.

"I think we've battled hard, competed hard," general manager Ron Hextall said. "I think we've made more plays than we were making. I think we've had more chances than we were getting before. Defensively we've been strong. 

Video: Ron Hextall joins the show to talk about the Flyers

"We've been a little snakebit around the net. Last game (a 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday) two pucks go through [Braden] Holtby's arms. I'd say 90 percent of the time when it goes through your arms it goes in the net and we're 0-for-2 there. But again, we've got to find ways to score goals."

The Flyers need more from their top offensive players. First-line center Claude Giroux has one goal and one assist since the All-Star break, and two goals in his past 25 games. Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has gone 33 games without a goal and has four after scoring 17 last season. Voracek has one goal in his past 11 games. Center Sean Couturier has one goal in his past 16.

"We have a lot of guys that need to play better, more consistently," Hextall said. "We've got a few guys whose numbers are not where they should be."

And with the NHL Trade Deadline coming March 1 at 3 p.m. ET, Hextall said the result Saturday could determine his approach.

"Watching the standings closely, we need to win tomorrow night," he said. "It's a big game for us."

Video: Claude talks about the in-state rivalry game in PIT

Coach Dave Hakstol switched his forward lines at practice Friday, putting Jordan Weal at left wing on the top line with Giroux and right wing Wayne Simmonds. Weal has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, and his speed brought a different element to the lineup in the three games he played prior to that. 

Brayden Schenn, who had been on the top line, was moved to center on the second line with left wing Nick Cousins and Voracek. Couturier centered the third line with Michael Raffl at left wing and Dale Weise at right wing. The fourth line had Pierre-Edouard Bellemare at center with Chris VandeVelde, Roman Lyubimov and Matt Read rotating on the wings.

Despite their recent struggles, the Flyers remain confident. They have 28 wins after 60 games, one more than they had after 60 games last season. At this time last season they were three points behind the Penguins for the final wild card in the Eastern Conference. They went 14-5-3 in their final 22 games to reach the postseason. 

With most of that group back, there's a feeling that the Flyers have another strong run in them.

"You have to be confident," Voracek said. "We're not going to go on the ice thinking we're not going to make the playoffs. Everybody has to leave everything on the ice. It's 22 games left. Lot of points on the table. Have to find a way."

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