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Playoff-bound Senators host Flyers in home finale

by Adam Kimelman

FLYERS (22-22-3) at SENATORS (24-16-6)


Last 10: Philadelphia 5-5-0; Ottawa 5-5-0

Season series: This will be the third and final game between the teams. They split their first two meetings -- the Flyers won 2-1 in Philadelphia on March 2, while the Senators won 3-1 in Philadelphia on April 11.

Big story: With their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs set, the Senators can focus on trying to win their final two games and climb as high in the Eastern Conference as possible.

Team Scope:

Flyers: The six defensemen the Flyers dressed Thursday against the New York Islanders entered the game with a total of 89 games of NHL experience this season. Those same players had skated in 241 games in the American Hockey League.

That's what happens when six defensemen sustain season-ending injuries.

However, since losing Braydon Coburn and Andrej Meszaros to season-ending shoulder injuries one game apart in late March, the Flyers are 9-5-0, despite also seeing veterans Kent Huskins, Bruno Gervais and Kimmo Timonen join them on the injured list. Replacing them have been second-year player Erik Gustafsson, and rookies Oliver Lauridsen, Brandon Manning and Matthew Konan.

"I think the guys who have stepped in did a really nice job," coach Peter Laviolette said after his team's 2-1 win Thursday. "Tonight the shots and chances were low, but that always hasn't been the case. There have been games where we gave up too many shots and chances, but then our goaltenders have been really good. … I think it's more of a team commitment and our goaltenders have done a nice job, as well."

Senators: It was a win on two levels for the Senators on Thursday. They got their Norris Trophy-winning defenseman back in the lineup, and they clinched a spot in the playoffs.

Playing 10 weeks after surgery to repair a 70-percent cut to his Achilles tendon, Karlsson assisted on both goals in a 2-1 overtime win against the Washington Capitals. The victory put the Senators in the postseason for the second consecutive season.

Despite lengthy absences by Karlsson, top-line forwards Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek and No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson, the Senators were able to find their way back to the postseason.

"It's a tremendous credit to our players, first of all, and their perseverance through quite a bit of adversity this season," coach Paul MacLean said after the game Thursday. "For us to make the playoffs under the circumstances that we were put under early in the season, I think is a great accomplishment by the group, and the players deserve all of the credit because they came out and played real hard."

Who's hot: Karlsson returned from injury to log 27:11 of ice time, and beyond his two assists, he fired eight shots on goal, the most of any player who skated in one of the 11 games played Thursday.

Injury report: The Flyers are missing forwards Zac Rinaldo (ankle), Maxime Talbot (leg), and Jody Shelley (hip), and defensemen Braydon Coburn (shoulder), Andrej Meszaros (shoulder), Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Kent Huskins (concussion), Bruno Gervais (torn stomach muscle) and Kimmo Timonen (foot). … Spezza (back) and Mike Hoffman (collarbone) remain out for the Senators.

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