John Tortorella's Philadelphia Flyers (20-21-9) are in Manitoba on Saturday to take on Rick Bowness's Winnipeg Jets (31-18-1). Game time at Canada Life Centre is 7:00 p.m. ET.
This is the Flyers final game before a week-long schedule hiatus overlapping with the NHL All-Star Break. The game schedule will resume on Feb. 6.
This is the second and final meeting of the season between the teams and the lone game in Winnipeg. Last Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers rallied all the way back from a 3-0 deficit only to yield a bad goal and ultimately go on to suffer a 5-3 loss.
The Flyers, who are 0-1-2 in their last three games, are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss in Saint Paul against the Minnesota Wild. In a feisty game that saw four separate fights, a late third-period goal by defenseman Tony DeAngelo (8th of the season) at 6-on-5 forced overtime. Noah Cates (7th) scored a first period goal on a deflection.
The Flyers had two players go down in the Minnesota game: Zack MacEwen to an upper-body injury sustained in a first-period fight with Marcus Foligno and Wade Allison to a lower-body injury incurred on an early-season period shot block. The Flyers did not practice on Friday and will not hold a morning skate on Saturday, so the status of both players is uncertain as of this writing.
Philadelphia did not recall a player from the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Friday. Thus, if neither Allison nor MacEwen are available on Saturday, the team may dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen with both winger Kieffer Bellows and defenseman Justin Braun playing for the first time in January.
The Jets enter the game coming off a 3-2 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Winnipeg fell behind 3-0 before staging a late comeback bid that fell one goal short. Nate Schmidt (PPG, 5th) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (6-on-5, 22nd) tallied in the final five minutes of the game but the Jets were unable to find an equalizer.
For an in-depth preview of this game, including team statistical trends, matchups to watch and keys to a Flyers' victory, see today's Five Things on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (20-15-5) rode a dominant opening 40 minutes to a 4-2 home win against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (19-16-5) at the PPL Center in Allentown on Friday evening. The Phantoms, who are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, hold sole possession of fourth place in the Atlantic Division, but the standings are still extremely tight.
Lehigh Valley is currently three points behind the third-place Charlotte Checkers. Meanwhile, there's a four-team logjam between fifth to eighth (last) place in the division and all among the Pens, Springfield Thunderbirds, Bridgeport Islanders and Hartford Wolf Pack have just two fewer points (43) this season than the Phantoms. Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton each hold one game in hand over Springfield, Bridgeport and Hartford.
On Friday night against the Pens, the Phantoms played excellent first and second periods in building a 4-0 lead.
Tyson Foerster took over the Phantoms' team goal-scoring lead, notching his 14th and 15th goals of the season. The Phantoms also received tallies from veteran captain Cal O'Reilly (PPG, 4th) and rookie defenseman Ronnie Attard (6th). Olle Lycksell, the Phantoms' leading overall point-getter, added three more assists (Nos. 21, 22, and 23) to his totals and Attard assisted on the second Foerster goal in addition to tallying one of his own. Defenseman Egor Zamula notched two assists, and both Bobby Brink and defenseman Louie Belpedio chipped in a helper apiece.
The first Foerster goal, a power play marker at 8:11 of the first period, was scored high to the short side on a scorching one-timer. The latter, at 4:56 of the middle stanza, was scored as Foerster was knocked down to the ice but the AHL All-Star Game selection still managed to beat Pens goalie Filip Lindberg over the glove.
Phantoms goaltender Samuel Ersson played an excellent game, stopping 34 of 36 shots with multiple tough saves along the way. He carried a shutout bid for nearly 50 minutes. Unfortunately, the Phantoms took their foot off the gas with a 4-0 lead in the third period and Ersson was under siege as the ice tilted against Lehigh Valley for much of the final stanza.
Mid-period goals by Tyler Sikura (5th) at 9:54 and Corey Andonovsky (7th) at 11:31 cut the Phantoms' lead in half with 8:29 left to play. Thereafter, amid a dozen third period saves by Ersson, the Phantoms restored order and closed out the win.
The last time the two teams met, in Wilkes-Barre, things got chippy and there was a series of fights and near-fights. The chippiness carried over a little bit in the second period of Friday's game with the Phantoms leading 4-0 before the game was 25 minutes old. By the third period, however, things settled down again.
The Phantoms are right back in action on Saturday night, hosting the Atlantic Division leading Hershey Bears (27-8-5) at the PPL Center. The Phantoms have yet to defeat Hershey this season. On Wednesday night, the Bears defeated the Phantoms, 5-2. The game was evenly played for 40 minutes and a 2-2 tie at the second intermission accurately reflected the flow of play. However, the Bears dominated the third period and pulled away with three unanswered goals. Ersson didn't have much of a chance on any of Hershey's goals in that game.
Friday's Phantoms lineup:
28 Olle Lycksell - 51 Artem Anisimov - 23 Bobby Brink
17 Garrett Wilson - 91 Elliot Desnoyers - 71 Tyson Foerster
24 Adam Brooks - 9 Cal O'Reilly - 42 Hayden Hodgson
20 Max Willman - 18 Jackson Cates - 15 Jordy Bellerive
4 Egor Zamula - 47 Louie Belpedio
37 Adam Ginning - Ronnie Attard
44 Kevin Connauton - 29 Wyatte Wylie
30 Samuel Ersson
[35 Pat Nagle]
Scratches: 1 Troy Grosenick (injury), 3 Adam Karashik (healthy), 6 Linus Högberg (healthy), 13 Ryan Fitzgerald (healthy), 14 Zayde Wisdom (healthy), 19 Isaac Ratcliffe (healthy, 11th straight game), 25 Cooper Marody (injury).