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Lightning, Flyers hoping to boost playoff position

by Adam Kimelman

FLYERS (41-29-9) at LIGHTNING (43-27-9)


Last 10: Philadelphia 4-4-2; Tampa Bay 5-3-2

Season series: It's the third and final regular-season game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning won the first two games between the teams, 4-2 on Nov. 27 in Tampa and 6-3 on Jan. 11 in Philadelphia. The Lightning have won five straight against the Flyers in Tampa; Philadelphia's last win at the Lightning was Feb. 15, 2011.

Big story: The Flyers and Lightning have clinched spots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and each team has the same goal over its remaining regular-season games: to climb as high in the standings as possible.

Tampa Bay enters third in the Atlantic Division, but still has a chance to pass the Montreal Canadiens for second place and home-ice advantage in their first-round series.

Philadelphia's position is a bit more in flux; they're third in the Metropolitan Division with 91 points, the same as the Columbus Blue Jackets. Philadelphia holds the tiebreaker over Columbus in the division by having played one less game.

Team scope:

Flyers: Philadelphia forward Jakub Voracek said Wednesday that his team would like to avoid slipping into a wild-card spot and a potential first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins or Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Flyers struggled against the Bruins this season, losing twice in regulation and once in a shootout. They did better against the Penguins, winning three of four games, including both games in Pittsburgh. They also swept a back-to-back, home-and-home set in mid-March.

The most likely playoff opponent for the Flyers is the Rangers. The teams split four games, with the home team winning each time. Most worrisome for the Flyers, though, is that they have lost eight straight games at Madison Square Garden; their most recent win there was Feb. 20, 2011.

Lightning: Goaltender Ben Bishop is in the running for the Vezina Trophy, but his regular season has come to a crashing end.

Bishop sustained an upper-body injury in the first period of the Lightning's game Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs when he reached for a high puck and fell hard to the ice. On Wednesday coach Jon Cooper said Bishop would miss the remainder of the regular season, and his return for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is in question.

"It's not impossible that he could play in the first round at some point," Cooper said. "We're better off re-evaluating this early next week and seeing where he's at."

In the interim Anders Lindback will be the No. 1 goalie, with Kristers Gudlevskis the backup. Lindback stopped all 25 shots he faced in relief of Bishop in a 3-0 win.

Cooper said if his team plays the way it did Tuesday, it won't matter who is in goal.

"If [Tuesday] is the way we can play on a consistent basis, I like where we're headed," he said. "I fully expect to move forward with or without Ben."

Who's hot: In 19 games since March 1, Flyers captain Claude Giroux has eight goals and 16 assists. … Lightning rookie forward Ondrej Palat has three goals and three assists during his current four-game scoring streak.

Injury report: The Flyers have no reported injuries. … Besides Bishop, Lightning defenseman Sami Salo (upper body) is out.


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