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Flyers-Senators Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (33-15-9) at Ottawa Senators (36-14-5).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EST.

The Philadelphia Flyers are proving their less-heralded players can compete just as well as their stars.

The undermanned Flyers travel north to play the Ottawa Senators in the teams' final game before the Olympic break.

Philadelphia has stayed in contention for the Atlantic Division lead recently despite being without seven of its injured regulars, most notably top center Peter Forsberg.

Forsberg is still on the Swedish Olympic roster despite missing the last seven games with groin and abdomen injuries.

Joining Forsberg among the injured regulars are centers Keith Primeau and Petr Nedved, defensemen Kim Johnsson, Mike Rathje, and Chris Therien and forward Branko Radivojevic.

Yet the Flyers have gone 3-3-1 in their last seven games and posted a 5-4 win Friday over the Washington Capitals. Sami Kapanen, whom coach Ken Hitchcock uses as both a forward and defenseman, snapped a 2-2 tie with a power-play goal.

Other less-heralded players made contributions as Brian Savage netted two power-play goals and enforcer Donald Brashear also scored.

Hitchcock was pleased his team won using role players.

"Our role players came through," Hitchcock said. "You had one team (Washington) playing reckless and the other trying to get away with playing careful."

The Flyers also are producing on the power play. They are 5-for-14 with the man advantage in their last two games after failing to convert 22 power plays over a five-game span.

Philadelphia, though, also has struggled killing off penalties, giving up nine power-play goals in 27 chances the last four games.

Ottawa is 2-4-1 in its last seven games and has lost consecutive contests, including a 2-1 defeat Thursday to the Atlanta Thrashers. Rookie defenseman and Slovakian Olympian Andrej Meszaros scored the lone goal for the Senators, who have not lost three consecutive games in regulation since Jan. 27-30, 2003.

"Our special teams tonight were the difference," said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson, who was in the penalty box serving his second holding penalty of the game when the go-ahead goal was scored. "Five-on-five, I think we were the better team. It's a tough loss."

Alfredsson, who will play for Sweden at Turin, has not scored a goal against the Flyers since Dec. 1, 2003, a span of five games and his lone goal in the last 14 games against them.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 75 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Atlantic Division. Senators - 77 points, 1st place, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Simon Gagne, 35 goals; Forsberg, 47 assists and 62 points; Brashear, 70 PIM. Senators - Alfredsson, 34 goals and 73 points; Jason Spezza, 44 assists; Chris Neil, 141 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Flyers - Power play: 18.2 percent (61 for 335), 12th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 79.2 percent (263 for 332), 25th. Senators - Power play: 20.4 percent (69 for 339), 3rd. Penalty killing: 84.8 percent (292 for 342), 7th.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Robert Esche (14-6-3, 0 SO, 3.06 GAA); Antero Niittymaki (18-9-6, 2, 2.99). Senators - Dominik Hasek (27-10-4, 5, 2.09); Ray Emery (9-4-1, 1, 3.13).

SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 22; Flyers, 4-3. At Philadelphia, Mike Knuble, Kapanen and R.J. Umberger scored in a 11:37 span of the first period to stake the Flyers to a 3-0 lead. Forsberg added two assists for Philadelphia, which nearly squandered a 4-0 lead.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 17-7-3 on the road; Senators - 21-6-1 at home.

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