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Fresh off rare loss, Flyers face off with Coyotes

by Brian Hunter /

FLYERS (12-6-1) at COYOTES (12-9-1)

Last 10: Philadelphia 7-3-0; Phoenix 4-5-1

Season series: This is the only meeting of the season between these inter-conference opponents. Mike Richards scored 1:35 into overtime to give the Flyers a 4-3 win at the Wachovia Center on Nov. 22, 2008. Jeff Carter had tied the score with 1:07 left in regulation. Daniel Carcillo, who had a power-play goal for the Coyotes, now plays for the Flyers.

Big Story: Philadelphia continues on a five-game road trip that has seen the Flyers split their first two games. They won 3-2 in Los Angeles on Wednesday for their seventh win in eight games, but were slowed down Friday by San Jose in a 6-3 defeat. After Saturday, they head to Colorado on Monday and finally back east to New York for a clash with the Islanders the night before Thanksgiving.

Team Scope:

Flyers: It took the League's top team to cool off Philadelphia, and one line in particular made sure it wouldn't be the Flyers' night: Dany Heatley recorded the hat trick with Joe Thornton assisting on all three goals as part of a four-point night. Claude Giroux scored a pair of goals for Philly, but nobody on the ice was a match for the Heatley-Thornton duo.

"They beat you every which way you can imagine," coach John Stevens said. "That top line kind of took the game away."

Coyotes: Overtime had been kind to Phoenix, until Thursday night. The Coyotes were 4-0 in the extra period until Erik Johnson and the Blues beat them 3-2 on a goal just 17 seconds after the puck hit the ice. St. Louis goalie Chris Mason was unbeatable in the third period, stopping 13 shots and giving his team the chance to pull off two points on the road.

"I give our guys a lot of credit, boy," coach Dave Tippett said. "They competed hard and probably deserved a better fate tonight. Mason made some real key saves for them in the third."

Who's Hot: Giroux has a four-game points streak for Philadelphia, with two goals and four assists. Radim Vrbata has goals in consecutive games for Phoenix and three in his last four.

Injury Report: Flyers forward Arron Asham suffered an oblique injury Monday against the Devils and remains out, as does defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen with a concussion.

Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski has missed the last six games and forward Matthew Lombardi the last three games with lower-body injuries. Defenseman Kurt Sauer (head) has not played since the season opener.

Stat Pack:
Brian Boucher was impressive in stopping 37 shots against the Kings and could be a candidate to start against the Coyotes after Ray Emery got the call in goal Friday. Boucher, in his second stint with the Flyers, played in 96 games over parts of three seasons in Phoenix from 2002-06, going 28-45-18-5.

Puck Drop: While the Coyotes' offense isn't nearly as fearsome as San Jose's, their defense and the goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov has Phoenix ranked sixth in the League allowing just 2.46 goals per game. If the Flyers find themselves in a shootout, it's likely to be the penalty-shot tiebreaker that follows 65 minutes of low-scoring play rather than the type they often get into against the Sharks.

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