Flyers-Lightning Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 26, 2011
The Philadelphia Flyers have lost more than two road games to only one team over the past year and a half. The lowly Tampa Bay Lightning could become the second. The Flyers hope the holiday break helps get them going back in the right direction as they face the Lightning on Tuesday night. Philadelphia had the Eastern Conference's most road points last season and currently has the league's most with a 13-4-2 record. The only opposing arena where the Flyers (21-9-4) have lost more than twice in that span is Madison Square Garden, having dropped three straight there after a 4-2 loss to the Rangers on Friday. That was their third defeat in four games overall following a seven-game winning streak. "Not Flyers hockey, really leaves a sour taste in our mouth going into the holidays," winger Scott Hartnell said after Philadelphia went scoreless for the game's first 50 minutes. Hartnell's club now resumes a stretch of five consecutive road games, ending Thursday in Pittsburgh, before hosting the Rangers in the Winter Classic next Monday. The Lightning play their final three games of 2011 at home. They've gone 2-0-1 against the Flyers in Tampa this year, splitting two games in February before a 2-1 victory Nov. 9 on Brett Connolly's overtime goal. Tampa Bay (14-17-3) had been on a 4-0-1 run overall in this series before losing 5-2 in Philadelphia on Dec. 10. While the Lightning are 13th in the East, Philadelphia is battling for the conference lead partly because Hartnell and Claude Giroux have been so good. Hartnell, who has scored in three straight versus Tampa, has seven goals and six assists with a plus-10 rating in 11 games this month. Giroux, who returned last week after missing four games due to a concussion, was held off the scoresheet Friday after totaling 14 points in his previous six games. Philadelphia hopes another key piece to its offense can return after Danny Briere sat out Friday with a finger injury. The Flyers' eight goals during their 1-2-1 stretch are a season low for a four-game span. Four have been power-play goals, more than the Lightning have all month. Tampa Bay is 3 for 32 with the man advantage in December. "We're losing our games because we can't get that power-play goal," said coach Guy Boucher, whose team's 3-8-1 record since Nov. 27 is among the NHL's worst. Steven Stamkos went pointless for a second straight game Friday in a 2-1 overtime loss at Colorado, but he has five goals and four assists in his last four home games. Martin St. Louis has five goals in his last eight overall, but the Lightning have lost seven straight when the star winger has played. This is his third game back after missing two weeks with an eye injury. St. Louis could face a struggling Ilya Bryzgalov. He's lost his last three starts while allowing 11 goals, and his .895 save percentage this season ranks among the league's worst. Bryzgalov has only faced 40 shots over two meetings with the Lightning this season, allowing two goals in each. He's 3-1-1 with a 2.07 GAA lifetime against them. Mathieu Garon has a 3.63 GAA in six career starts versus Philadelphia, including the Dec. 10 loss. Teammate Dwayne Roloson has started each game during the Lightning's 2-0-1 home stretch versus Philadelphia, allowing four goals, but he's 0-4-0 with a 5.09 GAA in his last six games overall.
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