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Predators return home to take on Predators

by Brian Hunter
FLYERS (36-28-4) at PREDATORS (38-26-5)

Last 10: Philadelphia 6-3-1; Nashville 6-4-0

Season series:
This is the only meeting of the 2009-10 season between these teams. Mike Richards opened the scoring with a power-play goal 45 seconds into the middle period to lead Philadelphia to a 4-1 home victory in the most recent matchup on March 7, 2009.

Big story:
If Michael Leighton makes the start in net Tuesday for the Flyers, he will tie his career high for appearances in a season. Leighton played in 34 games for the Blackhawks in 2003-04. He had never won more than six games in a season but has shattered that mark with a 17-9-2 record, including 16-5-2 since being claimed off waivers from the Hurricanes in December. Leighton has never appeared in an NHL playoff game, but that will change if the Flyers maintain their current positioning in the Eastern Conference.

Team Scope:

It was a busy weekend and a mixed bag for Philadelphia, which rallied for a 3-2 win against Chicago on Saturday thanks to a Chris Pronger goal with 2.1 seconds left and dropped a 3-1 decision to the Rangers in New York on Sunday. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette gave his team a break on Monday.

"The schedule is ridiculous right now. Every week is four (games) in six (days)," he told the team's official Web site. "We just finished four in six, we're looking at four in six, and there is just no time for us.

"We played a game (Sunday) that was missing energy. And with that, we didn't pressure anything. So, somehow we need to get some energy back for this upcoming week."

Pekka Rinne helped Nashville complete a four-game road trip with victories over Anaheim and Los Angeles, earning Third Star of the Week honors from the League. He stopped all 31 shots for his fourth shutout of the season in a 1-0 win over the Ducks, then made 18 saves for a 3-2 victory against the Kings. The Predators now return home to play eight of their next 10 games.

"If we could re-do one period, then the rest of the trip we played pretty solid," coach Barry Trotz said. "We had some emotional highs and lows on this trip, and when we can just play a solid game … like that, we'll have the chance to pick up some points."

Who's hot:
Jeff Carter has 10 goals in his last 12 games and Simon Gagne has six goals in his last eight games for the Flyers. Pronger has a goal and 10 assists in his last 12 games.

Patric Hornqvist has three goals in as many games for the Predators, including the game-winner late against the Kings. Ryan Suter has a goal and four assists during a five-game points streak. Colin Wilson has three goals and two assists in his last five games.

Injury report:
Philadelphia goalie Ray Emery (hip) is out for the season, which opened the door for Leighton to take the No. 1 job. … Nashville defenseman Denis Grebeshkov is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

Stat pack: Daniel Carcillo leads the Flyers with 175 penalty minutes, but with his next goal he will also hit double digits for the season. Carcillo scored 13 goals two seasons ago with the Coyotes. … Martin Erat leads the Predators with 43 points but is challenged for the team lead by four players with 41 apiece: Hornqvist, Jason Arnott, Steve Sullivan and J.P. Dumont.

Puck drop:
Neither team is a sure thing to make the playoffs at the moment, so the two points Tuesday should be hotly-contested. Philadelphia is tied for sixth in the East, and Nashville sits seventh in the West.

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