Devils-Flyers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 03, 2011
The Philadelphia Flyers are doing rather well without Danny Briere, and another meeting with the sputtering New Jersey Devils may keep them rolling. With Briere's status unknown, the Flyers look for their second three-game winning streak of the young season when they host the Devils on Thursday night. Philadelphia (7-4-1) followed Saturday's 5-1 win over Carolina with a 3-2 victory at Buffalo on Wednesday. The Flyers played both games without Briere, who is nursing an upper-body injury. It's unclear when Briere will return. Until he does, Philadelphia is without one of its top scorers. The center has four goals and six assists in 10 games after totaling 34 goals and 34 assists last season. Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux are helping pick up the scoring slack. Hartnell has five goals and five assists during a five-game point streak after totaling two points in the first seven games of the season. His goal against the Sabres was set up by Giroux, who has one goal and four assists over the last five contests. Philadelphia is also once again getting strong play in net from Ilya Bryzgalov, who has won consecutive starts for the first time since leading the Flyers to victories in their first three games of the season. That streak included a 20-save effort in a 3-0 victory at New Jersey on Oct. 8. Bryzgalov endured a personal five-game losing streak with a 4.62 goals-against average after starting the season hot, but has rebounded to stop 53 of 56 shots over the last two games. His 29 saves Wednesday included two point-blank stops in the final 16 seconds. "You know, I just try and stop the puck," Bryzgalov said. The Flyers are 10-1-1 in their last 12 home meetings with the Devils, including two wins in the opening round of the 2010 playoffs, a series Philadelphia won in five games. The Devils are 1-4-1 in their last five games overall. They fell 5-3 at home to Toronto on Wednesday, as Martin Brodeur made 18 saves after missing six games with a bruised right shoulder. "It took me a little while to get going," Brodeur said. "I felt pretty confident going out there, but it's always tough when you're coming back from an injury. I didn't play well, but I got the game under my belt. It was a tough game, because when you score three goals, you should win." Devils coach Pete DeBoer might want to give Brodeur a rest given his recent history in Philadelphia. The veteran netminder has lost eight starts in a row there - including both playoff defeats in 2010 - while compiling a 3.54 GAA. Brodeur made 26 saves to take the loss opposite Bryzgalov last month. Backup Johan Hedberg, 1-3-1 with a 2.77 GAA and one shutout in his last five games, has won his last two meetings with the Flyers, yielding three goals on 63 shots. Patrick Elias leads the Devils with five goals and nine points after finding the net against the Maple Leafs. The left wing totaled six goals in five meetings with the Flyers last season, but was limited to one shot on goal in last month's loss. Fellow New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk has gone six games without a goal after scoring two in the season's first four contests, but set up Elias' tally Wednesday for his fifth assist of 2011-12. Kovalchuk is a minus-7 on the season and was minus-3 versus Philadelphia in the Oct. 8 loss.
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