A five-game point streak has Philadelphia on the verge of securing a fourth straight trip to the playoffs. The Flyers will try to lock down a spot this evening with a rare road win against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
The Flyers are tied for the Eastern Conference lead with 94 points and are four up on the second-place Penguins in the Atlantic Division. Philadelphia also carries an 18-point edge over ninth-place Carolina into this meeting and can secure a place in the postseason with two points tonight.
Philadelphia finds itself in its current position despite a 4-3 shootout loss at Atlanta on Thursday. The Flyers rallied from three one-goal deficits thanks to a pair of goals from Danny Briere, who had the game-tying marker with 1:17 left in regulation, and one from Claude Giroux. However, Brian Boucher was bested twice in the tiebreaker after making 22 saves through overtime.
The Flyers are 3-0-2 in their last five games and Briere has a point in each contest. The forward has totaled three goals and five helpers in that span and reached the 30-goal mark for the fourth time in his career. Briere's 31 tallies are one off his career high, first set with Phoenix (2001-02) and later matched with Buffalo (2006-07).
"There's not a big difference between a playoff team and a non-playoff team," Briere said. "We have to bring it every night. We were playing another desperate team. They deserved what they got tonight. On our side, we're missing a little something, some zip. Nobody had that little extra jump."
Philadelphia is 1-0-1 on a three-game road trip and will host Washington on Tuesday in a big matchup for the conference's top seed. The Flyers remain without Chris Pronger, who is out following right hand surgery.
With Boucher having made two straight starts, the Flyers could go with rookie Sergei Bobrovsky tonight for his first ever start versus the Stars. Bobrovsky yielded five goals on 41 shots in his most recent start, a loss to Atlanta last Saturday.
Boucher made 30 saves when Philadelphia beat Dallas at home, 3-1, on Feb. 5 for its fourth straight victory in this series. However, its victory in Big D last year snapped a six-game series road winless streak that included four losses and a pair of ties.
Kari Lehtonen took the loss versus the Flyers in February to fall to 0-10-1 with a 3.68 goals-against average lifetime versus Philly. The first nine losses came while with Atlanta and he has lost both starts against the Flyers since joining the Stars.
Lehtonen is coming off his second shutout in four games however, a 23-save performance in a 5-0 victory over the Blackhawks. He also had an assist, his sixth of the season that broke the team's previous single-season record shared by Ed Belfour and Marty Turco.
"We really wanted to win this one," said Lehtonen, who owns 16 career shutouts and reached 30 wins in a season for the second time in his career. "We played the right way and did all the things right and be responsible in all three zones."
Jamie Benn and Brenden Morrow both registered a goal and an assist for Dallas, which avoided a third straight loss and improved to 2-2-1 on its seven-game homestand. The Stars are also tied with Chicago for sixth overall in the West, a point back of Los Angeles and just one ahead of eighth-place Calgary.
Benn has scored in eight of the nine games of his current point streak, adding in five assists as well.
While Adam Burish remained out with a lower-body injury, fellow forward Loui Eriksson missed his first game with a head injury suffered on Tuesday versus the Sharks.