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Preview: Flyers at Maple Leafs

Philadelphia, Toronto pursuing playoff spots in Eastern Conference

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

FLYERS (31-26-8) at MAPLE LEAFS (29-22-14)

7:30 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, NHLN, SNO, CSN-PH, NHL.TV


Flyers team scope

The Philadelphia Flyers are three points behind the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and trail the Toronto Maple Leafs by two points. "I think we'd circled this date a while back," captain Claude Giroux said. "Obviously they are a team that we're chasing right now. These games are pretty important." Goaltender Michal Neuvirth will make his first start since allowing four goals in a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Feb. 25. Steve Mason started the previous four games, going 3-0-1 with a 1.45 goals-against average and .954 save percentage. "The schedule dictates it. This is a good start for Neuvirth," coach Dave Hakstol said. "Mason's been real good and done a great job for us. Neuvirth's got to do the same thing for us tonight. If you look at the schedule, one guy's not going to be able to run the table all the way through, so it's a good night for Neuvirth to go in and do a job for his teammates."


Maple Leafs team scope

The Maple Leafs are one point behind the Islanders for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference and would move to within two points of the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with a win. "It's almost like a playoff-type game," forward Nazem Kadri said. "Coming down the stretch here they're all going to be nail-biters. I feel like we've played tight games throughout the whole year and it's kind of prepared us for this moment." Center Tyler Bozak is a game-time decision because of an undisclosed injury after missing the morning skate. However, coach Mike Babcock said he expects Bozak to play. Goalie Frederik Andersen will start his second consecutive game. He made 22 saves in a 3-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday that ended the Maple Leafs' season-high five-game losing streak (0-2-3) and gave him his first victory in his past five starts. "Every time you lose a game you want to rebound right away," Andersen said. "I know it's been looking tough during that five-game skid, but I think we played some really good hockey during that stretch. We knew it was just a matter of keep pushing and keep playing. It was definitely a better feeling walking out of the rink [Tuesday] after getting the two points." This is the third and final game between the Maple Leafs and Flyers this season; Toronto won 6-3 on Nov. 11 and Philadelphia won 2-1 on Jan. 26. 

Flyers projected lineup

Jordan Weal -- Claude Giroux -- Wayne Simmonds

Brayden Schenn -- Valtteri Filppula -- Jakub Voracek

Nick Cousins -- Sean Couturier -- Matt Read

Chris VandeVelde -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Travis Konecny

Ivan Provorov -- Andrew MacDonald

Brandon Manning -- Shayne Gostisbehere

Michael Del Zotto -- Radko Gudas

Michal Neuvirth

Steve Mason

Scratched: Roman Lyubimov, Nick Schultz, Dale Weise 

Injured: Michael Raffl (lower body)


Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Matt Martin -- Brian Boyle -- Nikita Soshnikov

Morgan Rielly -- Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner -- Alexey Marchenko

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Frederik Andersen

Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Martin Marincin, Eric Fehr, Josh Leivo, Ben Smith

Injured: Connor Carrick (upper body)


Status report

If Bozak can't play, Fehr will make his Maple Leafs debut, centering a line with Martin and Soshnikov. Boyle would center Komarov and Brown, and Kadri would skate between van Riemsdyk and Marner.


Who's hot

Schenn has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past eight games. ... Voracek has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past five games. ... Gudas had three points (one goal, two assists) to set a single-game NHL high and was a plus-5 in a 6-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday. ... Matthews has nine points (four goals, five assists) in his past nine games. ... Nylander has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in his past 11 games.

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