Hurricanes-Flyers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 02, 2013
Thanks in part to their offensive shortcomings, the Philadelphia Flyers are already enduring their second three-game slide of the season. Opening their first lengthy homestand against the Carolina Hurricanes would seem to be exactly what they need. The Flyers try to snap out of their scoring funk and avoid their first four-game skid in two seasons by continuing their dominance of the Hurricanes on Saturday night. Philadelphia (2-6-0) tied Boston for second in the NHL with 260 goals last season, but the Flyers aren't replicating that production in 2012-13. They're unexpectedly among the worst offensive teams with 16 goals and nearly half of that came in a 7-1 win at Florida last Saturday in the opener of a four-game trip. Matt Read had his first career hat trick against the Panthers, and that's all he's needed to lead the team on the season. Philadelphia has found the net just four more times while losing the remaining three games of that trip, capped by Friday's 3-2 defeat to Washington. "It's turnovers," coach Peter Laviolette said about what went wrong in the third period while giving up two goals. "But we need to compete better, as well." The Flyers opened the season with three consecutive losses, and haven't had a longer skid since dropping five straight from March 31-April 8, 2011. Now, they may be without Wayne Simmonds, who is tied with Read with a team-leading five points. Simmonds left Friday's defeat late in the first period after Washington's John Erskine hit him in the face with an elbow. No penalty was called. "Obviously, he's got a head injury and probably a little bit of whiplash going on right now," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "We're just going to have to wait and see how he is (Saturday)." Facing Carolina (3-3-0) in the opener of this four-game homestand would seem to present the Flyers with a great chance of beginning to reverse their current stretch. They're 18-2-3 in their last 23 meetings, going 8-1-2 at home. However, they fell 4-2 in the most recent game in Philadelphia on Nov. 21, 2011. Goals may be even tougher to come by with the Hurricanes coming off a 1-0 win over Ottawa on Friday, getting their third victory in four tries. "We limited our turnovers, when we did have any turnovers, we had great back pressure, we had great angles," said backup Dan Ellis, who had 33 saves. The Hurricanes, who are opening a season-high six-game road trip, may opt to stick with Ellis against the Flyers since he's 2-0-0 with a 0.75 goals-against average in three games. Regular starter Cam Ward has dropped three of four starts behind a 4.51 GAA, and is also 3-10-1 with a 3.06 GAA in his last 14 meetings with Philadelphia. Eric Staal will try to continue his scoring surge after getting the lone tally Friday. His five goals and seven points are team highs, and he's collected all of them in the past four games with a plus-7 rating. Staal, though, is a minus-6 with one goal over his last six games at Philadelphia - none in the past four. Alexander Semin has a four-game scoring drought against the Flyers, but that came with Washington. He assisted on Staal's goal against the Senators, giving him five points in five games. Semin signed a one-year contract last summer after repeatedly struggling in the playoffs with the Capitals "If they're going to be aggressive, he's got the skills to make them pay with a one-on-one move that not a lot of guys can do," Staal said.
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