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Flyers try to continue upward climb vs. Hurricanes

by Kurt Dusterberg / NHL.com

FLYERS (26-23-11) at HURRICANES (21-30-7)

TV: NBCSN, CSN-PH

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Philadelphia Flyers will continue to take aim on the second Eastern Conference wild-card berth into the Stanley Cup Playoffs when they face the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

An 8-1-4 stretch has the Flyers four points behind the Boston Bruins for the final playoff spot in the East.

"We've climbed back from a deep hole but we still have a long ways to go," said Wayne Simmonds, who leads Philadelphia with 24 goals. "I think we just need to keep our heads down and keep playing solid hockey. Hopefully we can grab that last spot."

With goaltenders Steve Mason and Ray Emery injured, Rob Zepp will make his eighth start this season. Mason skated Tuesday morning but Flyers coach Craig Berube said he is not ready to return.

"It's good. He's in there, he's getting some work," Berube said. "That's what he needs."

Asked if Mason might be available to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, Berube said Saturday against the New York Ranger is more likely.

"We need to see him in a full practice," Berube said.

Carolina took the unusual step of having no practice in the two days leading up to the game. The Hurricanes have lost four out of six (2-4-0), and coach Bill Peters thinks he knows why.

"Everyone's mentally tired," he said. "The mind powers the body. When the mind's tired then the body acts tired."

Cam Ward will start in goal for Carolina, marking his 500th NHL game.

Here are the projected lineups:

FLYERS

Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Ryan White- Brayden Schenn - R.J. Umberger

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Zac Rinaldo

Nick Schultz - Mark Streit

Michael Del Zotto - Braydon Coburn

Nicklas Grossmann - Andrew MacDonald

Rob Zepp

Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier, Luke Schenn, Carlo Colaiacovo

Injured: Ray Emery (lower body), Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Steve Mason (knee)

HURRICANES

Eric Staal - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Riley Nash - Alexander Semin

Nathan Gerbe - Victor Rask - Jiri Tlusty

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Patrick Dwyer

Andrej Sekera - Justin Faulk

John-Michael Liles - Tim Gleason

Ron Hainsey - Brett Bellemore

Cam Ward

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Andrej Nestrasil, Chris Terry, Michal Jordan

Injured: Ryan Murphy (lower body)

Status report: Rinaldo will stay in the Philadelphia lineup in place of Lecavalier. "I wanted more physical energy in the lineup," Berube said. "Zac finishes his checks. I thought he did a good job of adding that to the team."

Who's hot: Simmonds has six goals and three assists during a career-best eight-game point streak. … Ward has won four of his past five starts. ... Tlusty has one goal and two assists in his past three games.

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