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Flyers wrap up trip with a visit to Ottawa

by John Kreiser

FLYERS (19-18-3) at SENATORS (21-16-4)

Last 10 -- Philadelphia 5-3-2; Ottawa 5-5-0

Season series -- The teams are meeting for the third time this season, but the first time at Scotiabank Place. Philadelphia won 5-1 at home on Nov. 12, but Ottawa blanked the Flyers 2-0 at the Wachovia Center on Dec. 10.

Big story -- With the Winter Classic in the books, it's back to indoor hockey for the Flyers, who are 4-0-1 in their last five games -- all on the road -- despite the 2-1 overtime loss at Fenway Park on Friday. The Senators have won two of their last three, including a 3-2 shootout win over the New York Islanders.

Team Scope:

Flyers -- Philadelphia hits the halfway point in a season that has seen the Flyers start out hot, fall into a trough that got coach John Stevens fired, then rebound over the last couple of weeks to get back into the playoff picture under new coach Peter Laviolette.

Talk about an up-and-down season.

"We started the season well, then we hit the slump, and now we're playing good. It's kind of been weird," defenseman Kimmo Timonen told the team's Web site on Saturday. "Still, we have so many games left, [and] everything is in our hands. I'm sure we're going to be way better in the second half."

Senators -- After missing the playoffs last season, the Senators find themselves solidly in the top eight in the East at the midway point.

"With the effort and execution, for the most part, we can't be anything but happy," coach Cory Clouston told the media on Saturday when asked to assess his team's season at the midway point.

"Every other team can say very similar things, but where we are right now in the standings, if someone were to ask, with this many injuries, and to this many key guys, I think we'd take it."

Who's hot -- Goalie Michael Leighton, a waiver-wire pickup from Carolina, has been perhaps the biggest factor in the Flyers' hot streak. He's played in all five games and has allowed just eight goals in that span. He had a shutout streak of 154:07 before Boston scored late in the third period on Friday. … Ottawa's Randy Shannon had a three-game goal-scoring streak snapped on Thursday but scored the deciding goal in the shootout.

Injury report -- The Flyers are still without goaltender Ray Emery (abdominal surgery). Emery is skating and hopes to be back in a couple of weeks. … Ottawa will be without its top two scorers, Jason Spezza (knee) and Daniel Alfredsson (shoulder), for at least the rest of the month.

Stat pack -- The Flyers have lost six of their last seven games at Scotiabank Place, while the Senators are 10-3-0 in their last 13 games at home. … Ottawa is also 3-1-0 in the four games since Alfredsson joined Spezza on the injured list. The Senators have won three consecutive shootouts and scored on their last five shootout attempts.

Puck drop -- This is an especially big game for the Senators, who open the second half of their season by playing their League-high 25th home game. They are 15-6-3 at Scotiabank Place -- but just 6-10-1 on the road, where they will play 24 of their last 40. The Flyers have to come down after all the hoopla (and the disappointment of losing) the Winter Classic, but a win would be a great way to end a six-game road trip.

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