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Preview: Maple Leafs at Flyers

Backup Curtis McElhinney starts for Toronto; Philadelphia may use Steve Mason again

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

MAPLE LEAFS (23-14-9) at FLYERS (24-19-6)

7 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, SNO, NHL.TV


Maple Leafs team scope

Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. It will be his second start game since being claimed on waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 10; he made 35 saves in a 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 14. Frederik Andersen made 22 saves in a 4-0 win at the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. The Maple Leafs got goals from three of their four lines, including one from fourth-line right wing Nikita Soshnikov in the third period. "I've really thought our fourth line [Soshnikov, Matt Martin and Frederik Gauthier] has been excellent this last while," coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday. "Very physical, [the opposition] knows they're coming, good in the faceoff circle. It was great to see [Soshnikov] get rewarded and those guys get rewarded." The balance is key to keeping players fresh in back-to-backs games 11 of the 12 forwards played at least 10 minutes against Detroit, but only one played more than 18 minutes.


Flyers team scope

Michal Neuvirth will start in goal for the Philadelphia Flyers after Steve Mason made 34 saves in a 2-0 victory against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday. It was Mason's first shutout since March 5, 2016. "[Mason] played great for us," forward Wayne Simmonds said Wednesday. "He allowed us to get our feet under us. I thought we started coming on the second half of the second [period]. The first half of the game wasn't the greatest but [Mason] stood in there and made some unbelievable saves for us." The win Wednesday followed a 3-2 overtime defeat of the New York Islanders on Sunday. It's the first time the Flyers have won consecutive games since their 10-game winning streak ended Dec. 17. They went 3-9-3 in 15 games between the end of the streak and their victory against the Islanders. "It's been a tough stretch the last month or so mentally I think for everybody," Mason said. "We've had two games recently over here on the road against two quality hockey clubs and to be able to come away with four points is definitely something to build off of. We're going right back home [Thursday] and going to have a real strong test as well."


Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- William Nylander

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- Connor Brown

Matt Martin -- Frederik Gauthier -- Nikita Soshnikov

Martin Marincin -- Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner -- Connor Carrick

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Curtis McElhinney

Frederik Andersen

Scratched: Josh Leivo, Frank Corrado

Injured: Morgan Rielly (lower body), Ben Smith (hand)


Flyers projected lineup

Michael Raffl -- Claude Giroux -- Jakub Voracek

Travis Konecny -- Brayden Schenn -- Wayne Simmonds

Nick Cousins -- Sean Couturier -- Matt Read

Chris VandeVelde -- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare -- Roman Lyubimov

Ivan Provorov -- Andrew MacDonald

Mark Streit -- Radko Gudas

Brandon Manning -- Shayne Gostisbehere

Michal Neuvirth

Steve Mason

Scratched: Dale Weise, Nick Schultz

Injured: Michael Del Zotto (lower body)


Status report

Rielly will miss his fifth straight game, but Babcock said Wednesday that he would be ready to play after the All-Star break. The Maple Leafs' next game is at the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. … Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said there's a chance Neuvirth could play Thursday for the first time since being removed for precautionary reasons after playing two periods against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 21. "[Mason] played a [great] game," he said. "We've got two pretty good goaltenders. I haven't made the decision yet. I'll make that probably on the train ride home." … With both teams playing Wednesday there were no morning skates Thursday.


Who's hot

Marner has three goals and 10 assists in his past 11 games. Van Riemsdyk has four goals and 11 assists in his past 12 games. Matthews has nine goals and seven assists in his past 16 games. Kadri has eight goals and six assists in the past 12 games. … Schenn has six goals and six assists in his past 13 games. Simmonds has goals in back-to-back games, including the game-winner against the Rangers.

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