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Flyers try to cool off red-hot Predators

by Corey Masisak /

PREDATORS (31-16-4) at FLYERS (29-14-6)


Last 10: Nashville 9-1-0; Philadelphia 5-3-2

Season Series: Four different players scored and Pekka Rinne made 36 stops to help Nashville defeat Philadelphia 4-2 last month in the first meeting of the season. The Flyers have won the two previous meetings in Philadelphia.

Big Story: Will the Flyers be able to cool off the NHL's hottest team? Nashville comes to the Wells Fargo Center after closing out an 11-2-0 month of January with a 5-4 win at Minnesota in a game it trailed 4-1 with less than 11 minutes left. The Flyers lost their last game 2-1 to Winnipeg in a shootout.

Team Scope:

Predators: Nashville's four-game winning streak appeared all but over when the Predators trailed 4-1 to the Wild and the clock had ticked under 11 minutes remaining. But goals by Brandon Yip, Patrik Hornqvist and Mike Fisher got them even, and Fisher scored the winner with 20.8 seconds left when his routine shot from the right boards slipped past Josh Harding.

"It's someone different stepping up every night, and that's why we've been winning," said Fisher, one of nine Predators with at least 10 goals.

Flyers: Philadelphia continues to be short key players, but the Flyers also continue to keep within striking distance of the Rangers and Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Jaromir Jagr returned Tuesday, but Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk are still sidelined, as is captain Chris Pronger, who's gone for the season.

The Flyers are 7-3-2 since losing to the Rangers in the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL Winter Classic despite the missing bodies. They have also collected at least a point in four straight contests.

The best news on Tuesday was the play of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who was sharp in a 23-save performance and appears to be rounding into the form he had while carrying Phoenix into the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.

"He was excellent," coach Peter Laviolette said. "There were lots of opportunities and lots of attempts, but our guy held us in there."

Who's Hot: Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne, the NHL's Third Star of the Month for January, has won his last 10 starts -- though he did allow four goals on 25 shots to the Wild. Fisher has five goals in Nashville's last three games. … Scott Hartnell has five goals and seven points in Philadelphia's last four games.

Injury Report: Nashville was without forward Jerred Smithson and defenseman Francis Bouillon due to upper-body injuries. … Flyers forwards Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk are out with concussions, as is captain Chris Pronger.

Stat Pack: Nashville has nine players in double figures in goals -- but no one in the top 50 in scoring. … The Preds' 11 wins in January are a franchise record. … Seven of Philadelphia's last 11 goals have come on the power play. This is the 16th meeting between the teams; each has won six, with three ties -- although half of Nashville's wins have come after regulation.

Puck Drop: While the Predators remain on a roll, Nashville coach Barry Trotz wasn't particularly enthused by his team's effort against the Wild on Tuesday.

Not that he was about to throw back the two points.

"They don't ask you how, but sometimes how many," Trotz said. "We weren't as good as we needed to be, but we found a way. ... "We've got to leave in a hurry and make sure they don't take these points away."

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