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Flyers try to clinch playoff berth in Dallas

by Adam Kimelman
FLYERS (43-19-8) at STARS (38-25-8)

TV -- CSN-Philadelphia (HD), TXA 21 (HD)

Last 10
-- Philadelphia 4-4-2; Dallas 6-2-2

Season series -- This is the second and final meeting between the teams. On Feb. 5, Andrej Meszaros, Darroll Powe and Jeff Carter each had goals in a 3-1 Flyers victory. Philadelphia goalie Brian Boucher stopped 30 of 31 shots.

Big story -- The Stars snapped a two-game losing streak with a big 5-0 win against the Blackhawks on Thursday. The next step is building on those good feelings, something they haven't been able to do as Dallas has won back-to-back games just once this month.

The Flyers picked up a point in Atlanta on Thursday, but for the second time in three games, they lost in extra time to the Thrashers. They begin the night tied with Washington atop the Eastern Conference with 94 points, though the Caps have played three more games.

Team Scope:

-- They're unbeaten in regulation in their last five games (3-0-2), but no one in the Philadelphia locker room sounds happy about their recent results, including Thursday's 4-3 shootout loss to the Thrashers.

It took a furious third-period rally, which saw the Flyers outshoot the Thrashers 11-3 and get a Danny Briere goal with 1:27 left in regulation to force overtime. For the first two periods, the Flyers were out-shot 20-12.

"Did we play with the intensity we need to win hockey games in the first two periods? No," said Laviolette. "We picked it up in the third period. We fought hard. There was two points there. We talked about the game and where we had gotten for 40 minutes and where we needed to go if we were going to walk out of there with points. We weren't where we needed to be."

What changed in the third?

"The third period we played better energy-wise, we had two big kills and stayed with it," goalie Brian Boucher told reporters. "It probably overall wasn't our best piece of work. The fact we got a point is something to be happy about it. We would have liked a better effort all-round."

Stars -- Dallas coach Marc Crawford has been around long enough to know when to push a team and when to let off the gas. After his team lost to San Jose on Tuesday, he canceled practice Wednesday.

After Thursday's 5-0 rout of the Blackhawks, Crawford's looking awfully smart.

The Stars took a 1-0 lead on Jamie Benn's goal in the first and then chased Corey Crawford with a pair of goals early in the second. They put two more past former teammate Marty Turco in the third, and at the other end held the Blackhawks to just 23 shots.

"We were really pleased with the way everybody pitched in defensively," Crawford told the Dallas Morning News. "I thought you look at key elements in our game tonight where we need to have big performances from -- our defense, our penalty killing and our goaltender -- and we got all of those things."

Who's hot -- Flyers forward Claude Giroux has a five-game point-scoring streak. He's got 2 goals and 5 assists in that span. … Stars center Brad Richards had a pair of assists Thursday, his best game of the five he's played since missing a month with a concussion.

Injury report -- Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger will miss 3-4 weeks following surgery to repair a broken bone in his right hand. … Stars forwards Loui Eriksson (upper body) and Adam Burish (lower body) are questionable.

Stat pack -- Don't be surprised if Andrew Raycroft is in goal for the Stars on Saturday. In 11 games against the Flyers, Kari Lehtonen is 0-10-1 with a 3.68 goals-against average and .887 save percentage.

Puck drop -- The Flyers' recent struggles have been blamed in part on complacency due to their spot at the top of the Eastern Conference standings since January. Now that they're so close to clinching a playoff spot, how do they stay hungry?

"We feel it over here when we play teams," captain Mike Richards told "Buffalo, Toronto, you can see the intensity step up. It is a concern because at some point, it has to be us, too that is that desperate and get that mindset going."

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