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Flyers, Blackhawks have plenty at stake

Win would put Philadelphia in wild-card spot; Chicago seeks to end skid

by Brian Hedger / NHL.com Correspondent

FLYERS (33-23-12) AT BLACKHAWKS (41-23-6)

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVAS, SN1

CHICAGO -- If the Philadelphia Flyers want to move up the standings in the Eastern Conference, a win against the motivated Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Wednesday would be a good place to start.

A victory would move the Flyers past the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference, but the Blackhawks are looking to end a three-game losing streak.

Those three defeats were against the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings, who defeated Chicago 5-0 at United Center on Monday.

"I think we've been ordinary for a stretch here," coach Joel Quenneville said after the Blackhawks' optional morning skate. "You lose three games to key opponents fighting for the same space, you lose a lot of ground. We put ourselves in a big hole here. We were in a great spot a while ago. Now, we're chasing it. So it's up to us to put ourselves back in the place where we want to be."

Chicago, which is 9-10-2 since setting a franchise record with 12 straight wins Dec. 29-Jan. 19, will roll out new line combinations.

The most prominent switch involves right wing Patrick Kane, the NHL's leading scorer with 89 points, and right wing Marian Hossa. Kane will be split from center Artem Anisimov and rookie left wing Artemi Panarin and put on the top line with Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and left wing Tomas Fleischmann.

Hossa, who usually plays that role, will fill Kane's spot at right wing on the second line with Anisimov and Panarin. Andrew Ladd, re-acquired in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 25 to play on the top line, will play left wing on the third.

The changes might be temporary, but could last longer if they produce results. The Blackhawks are 3-3-1 since the trade for Ladd and have been outscored 22-18.

"If we're not changing things, we know things are going good," Quenneville said. "We don't change things unless we don't like what we're seeing. Right now, we're looking for just a change and see what comes of it."

Scott Darling will make his 14th start in net for Chicago. Darling is 4-0-0 with a 1.09 goals-against average and .960 save percentage at United Center this season.

The Flyers are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games and trail the Red Wings by one point in the chase for a playoff spot. They're coming off a 4-3 win against Detroit at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday, when they outshot the Red Wings 23-3 in the first period for a 2-0 lead.

Philadelphia held an optional skate Wednesday with only a handful of players on the ice. Among them was forward Jakub Voracek, the Flyers' second-leading scorer who's missed eight games with a lower-body injury.

Voracek skated hard, but is unlikely to play against the Blackhawks. He might be ready to return for a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.

Goalie Michal Neuvirth participated in the skate and is likely to get the start for the Flyers.

Here are the projected lineups:

FLYERS
Brayden Schenn - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl - Sean Couturier - Sam Gagner
Scott Laughton - Nick Cousins - Matt Read
Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan White

Andrew MacDonald - Shayne Gostisbehere
Nick Schultz - Mark Streit
Brandon Manning - Radko Gudas

Michal Neuvirth
Steve Mason

Injured: Jordan Weal (upper body), Michael Del Zotto (wrist), Jakub Voracek (lower body)
Scratched: R.J. Umberger, Evgeny Medvedev

BLACKHAWKS
Tomas Fleischmann - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Artemi Panarin - Artem Anisimov - Marian Hossa
Andrew Ladd - Teuvo Teravainen - Andrew Shaw
Brandon Mashinter - Andrew Desjardins - Dale Weise

Duncan Keith - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Trevor Van Riemsdyk - Brent Seabrook
Christian Ehrhoff - Michal Rozsival
 
Scott Darling
Corey Crawford

Injured: Marcus Kruger (left wrist)
Scratched: Erik Gustafsson, Dennis Rasmussen, Richard Panik

Status report: Voracek, who hasn't played since Feb. 25, has skated four straight days. The Flyers are 6-1-1 since his injury. … Neuvirth hasn't started since March 3 in a 4-0 loss against the Edmonton Oilers. He had flu symptoms that prevented him from backing up Steve Mason this past Saturday at the Florida Panthers, but returned to the bench for Philadelphia's win against Detroit. … Teravainen and Keith, who each missed practice Tuesday, participated in the Blackhawks' optional skate and will play. Keith has missed three straight practices for rest purposes and Teravainen had an illness.

Who's hot: Gostisbehere has goals in the past two games and four goals in the past four games, extending his Flyers record for goals by a rookie defenseman in a season. … Teravainen has points in five of the Blackhawks' past seven games (one goal and four assists).

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