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Previous trip to Ottawa changed Flyers' season

by Sean Farrell

OTTAWA -- The Philadelphia Flyers were in a bad way the last time they came to Canadian Tire Centre, but facing the Ottawa Senators proved to be just what they needed to start their climb back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Steve Mason got his first Philadelphia shutout in a 5-0 win against Ottawa on Nov. 12 as the Flyers, who got off to a 4-10-1 start, won consecutive games for the second time this season.

Philadelphia went on to record points in seven straight games (6-0-1) during a span that featured a pair of three-game winning streaks, including one that began with a 5-2 win against Ottawa on Nov. 19.

"We dug ourselves out of a hole and put ourselves in the picture," Flyers right wing Steve Downie said. "We're not near where we want to be but we definitely made strides. We've just got to keep improving every day, and try to get a couple more wins and get back in there."

Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux has five goals and eight assists in his past 14 games, including a goal and two assists in two games against the Senators, after starting the season with no goals and seven assists through 15 games.

Giroux's production is needed more than ever with center Vincent Lecavalier out 3-4 weeks because of a non-displaced fracture in his lower back. Brayden Schenn moved from left wing to center on the second line in Lecavalier's absence.

"I think it's a great opportunity for him to show what he can do," Giroux said of Schenn. "He's one of our better players, so for him to have the opportunity to play in the middle and get more ice, I think it's going to be great for him and great for our team."

Schenn has one assist in three games since making the move after Lecavalier was injured Nov. 30.

"I've played there [center] pretty much my whole life," Schenn said. "Through junior and all of last year I played center, so it's an easy transition. I enjoy it and it almost feels more natural."

Philadelphia recalled forward Tye McGinn from the Adirondack Phantoms of the American Hockey League on Monday. He practiced but is not expected to be in the lineup against Ottawa.

Also dressed for practice was Flyers goaltending coach Jeff Reese, who manned the net opposite Steve Mason as backup goalie Ray Emery had to miss practice.

"Passport issue, it's all good," Philadelphia coach Craig Berube said.

The Flyers aim to sweep the season series against the Senators, who have lost four of five (1-3-1) and are tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for 12th in the Eastern Conference with 27 points, one point behind 11th-place Philadelphia.

"We, unfortunately, kind of got the ball rolling for them," Ottawa right wing Bobby Ryan said. "They came in and had a five-goal effort when they were really struggling to score and since then their offense has been one of the better ones in the League. They've been able to win games and their power play's gotten a lot better, so I think there are similarities between the two and hopefully they can return the favor, so to speak."

Defenseman Marc Methot also believes the Senators can draw some inspiration from the Flyers about climbing back into contention for a playoff spot.

"Any time you see a team kind of rally like that it gives you hope," Methot said. "I think we're in a similar boat with the way Philly was the last time they came in, where we can maybe try and scramble together and get a good, big moral victory and try and get a ball rolling, because if you don't start stringing together wins you're not going to make the playoffs, and playing 50/50 hockey is not the way we intended on playing this year."

Here are the projected Flyers and Senators lineups:


Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Michael Raffl - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Steve Downie

Jay Rosehill - Adam Hall - Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn

Nicklas Grossmann- Mark Streit

Andrej Meszaros - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Hal Gill, Erik Gustafsson, Tye McGinn

Injured: Vincent Lecavalier (back)


Clarke MacArthur - Jason Spezza - Erik Condra

Milan Michalek - Kyle Turris - Bobby Ryan

Colin Greening - Zack Smith - Chris Neil

Matt Kassian - Mika Zibanejad - Cory Conacher

Marc Methot - Erik Karlsson

Chris Phillips - Joe Corvo

Jared Cowen - Patrick Wiercioch

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Eric Gryba, Mike Hoffman

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