Flyers-Canadiens Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 14, 2013
The Philadelphia Flyers are facing what appears to be inevitable elimination from playoff contention, and a deep scoring slump certainly isn't helping matters. Facing a Montreal Canadiens team that was pretty generous in its own end the last time out could help get them back on track. Philadelphia looks to avoid a fifth consecutive loss by defeating Montreal for the eighth time in 11 meetings Monday night. The Flyers (17-21-3) haven't missed the playoffs since 2006-07, but they're sitting nine points behind the New York Rangers for the final Eastern Conference postseason spot. They've managed three goals during their skid after falling 1-0 to Buffalo on Saturday. Philadelphia has gone four games without scoring at least two goals in regulation for the first time since Jan. 24-30, 2003. ''Nobody likes the position we're in. It's tough to take,'' general manager Paul Holmgren said. ''Scoring three goals in the last four games is, I'm sure, real tough to take for the players, too. We just have to dig in now and play hard.'' Danny Briere returned after missing 10 games with a concussion and wasn't immune to the bad luck, ringing a shot off the crossbar as the final horn sounded. The Flyers, who last dropped five straight in regulation Nov. 27-Dec. 7, 2009, have been outscored 12-3 over the last four. ''Yeah, it's the way things are going these days around here,'' Briere said. ''All the offense that we have up front, it's been frustrating in that regard. I wish I had an easy answer.'' The slide follows a four-game winning streak in which Philadelphia scored five goals in each of the final three, including a 5-3 victory over Montreal on April 3. Jakub Voracek and Simon Gagne each had a goal and an assist in that game as Carey Price gave up four goals. Price had another tough outing Saturday, allowing three goals on four shots before being pulled midway through the first period of a 5-1 loss to Toronto. ''It was a tough night for him, but those things happen in your career,'' coach Michel Therrien said. ''He's a good kid, he cares, he's had a good season, he's got character and he's going to bounce back. I have no doubt about that.'' Price has gone 1-3-0 with a 3.49 goals-against average in his past four games, starting with the loss to the Flyers. It's uncertain if playoff-bound Montreal (26-10-5) will go back to Price on Monday or start Peter Budaj, who signed a two-year extension Wednesday. Budaj has gone 7-0-0 with a 1.53 GAA over his last eight appearances - six starts - in a stretch that began with a 19-save effort in a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Feb. 16. No matter who is in net, the Canadiens hope to get back on track quickly. They lead Boston by one point atop the Northeast Division. "(Saturday) was a tough one, but this is a team with a lot of character and these are the kinds of athletes who are going to bounce back," Therrien said. Philadelphia may opt to start Ilya Bryzgalov despite his 3.44 GAA over his last five starts. He's 2-3-1 with a 3.17 GAA lifetime versus the Canadiens. Though the Flyers have won seven of the last 10 matchups, each defeat has come in Montreal.
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