(SportsNetwork.com) – The Philadelphia Flyers begin an epic road trip that
will carry them into 2015 when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for
Saturday’s clash at Air Canada Centre.
Philadelphia kicks off its longest trip of the season tonight, an eight-game
swing that will keep the Flyers away from the Wells Fargo Center until they
host Ottawa on Jan. 6. By the time the trip ends Jan. 3 in New Jersey, Craig
Berube’s club will have played 13 road tilts over a 17-game stretch.
The Flyers, who went 2-1-1 on a four-game homestand that wrapped Thursday
against Florida, is hoping this trek turns out better than its last road trip.
Philadelphia went 1-2-2 on a five-game swing from Nov. 29-Dec. 9 and is just
3-9-3 as the visiting team this season.
Philadelphia has six wins over its last eight games in Toronto, but the Leafs
have claimed two of the past three meetings at Air Canada Centre.
Tonight’s tilt marks the first of three scheduled encounters between the club
in 2014-15. The Leafs took two of three from the Flyers in 2013-14 and have
earned four wins in the past six meetings overall.
After winning the first two games of its homestand by a combined 9-2 margin
against New Jersey and Carolina, the Flyers lost two straight against Tampa
Bay and Florida. The Lightning posted a 3-1 win in the City of Brotherly Love
on Tuesday before the Panthers edged the Flyers in Thursday’s shootout battle.
Dave Bolland scored in the sixth round of the tiebreaker to lift the
Panthers to a 2-1 victory. It was a short shootout compared to the NHL-record
20-round battle Florida had with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
The Flyers fell to 0-5 in shootouts this season.
Jakub Voracek scored the only goals for the Flyers in both regulation and the
shootout. Voracek has 38 points this season, tying him for second in the NHL
scoring race with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.
Steve Mason stopped 31-of-32 shots for the Flyers through regulation and OT
before taking the loss in the shootout.
Ray Emery will start tonight for the Flyers after Mason suffered an upper-body
injury at Friday’s practice. Mason did not travel with the team to Toronto and
also will miss Sunday’s game in Winnipeg. General manager Ron Hextall said the
status of his No. 1 goaltender will be updated on Monday.
Emery is 5-3-2 with a 3.08 goals against average in his career against the
Maple Leafs. Rob Zepp was recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey
League to serve as Emery’s backup. The 33-year-old Zepp has never seen action
in an NHL game.
Toronto is hoping to rebound tonight after having a six-game winning streak
halted in Thursday’s 4-1 loss at Carolina. The Hurricanes had lost six in a
row before dealing the Maple Leafs the setback at PNC Arena.
The Leafs were eyeing their longest winning streak in over 11 years, but
Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and never looked back.
Toronto still hasn’t won seven in a row since an eight-game streak from Nov.
22-Dec. 6, 2003.
Dion Phaneuf scored for the Maple Leafs, who also lost for just the third time
in their last 13 games (10-2-1).
Jonathan Bernier gave up three goals on 36 shots and had a personal four-game
winning streak stopped.
“We got outworked,” said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. “Then we finally got
ourselves back into the hockey game and took ourselves right out of it.”
Toronto returns home for just one night before beginning a seven-game road
trip of its own with Sunday’s test in Chicago. The Leafs are 14-7-0 as the
host this season compared to a 5-3-3 mark on the road.