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National Hockey League

NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Wednesday, December 11th (All times Eastern)

Philadelphia Flyers (13-14-3) at Chicago Blackhawks (22-6-5), 8 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Chicago Blackhawks try to keep heading in the right direction when they welcome the Philadelphia Flyers for Wednesday's battle at the United Center.

Chicago had lost three straight to begin the month of December after closing November on a season-best six-game winning streak, but the Blackhawks enter Wednesday coming off consecutive 6-2 victories against the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars.

After routing a visiting Florida club on Sunday, the Blackhawks took to the road to slam Dallas on Tuesday. Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad both scored two goals to help Chicago end the Stars' point streak at six games with the 6-2 triumph.

Michael Kostka and Patrick Kane also scored and Kane had two assists for the Blackhawks, who pushed their NHL-best point total to 49.

"We were throwing the puck at the net and it was going in," said Kostka. "But we have to make sure we always keep our foot on the gas and don't let teams crawl back in once we get a lead. I'm pretty sure we did a good job tonight of that."

Antti Raanta had 27 saves for Chicago on the same day the team announced Corey Crawford will miss around three weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered in the first period of Sunday's win against Florida.

If head coach Joel Quenneville chooses not to use Raanta on consecutive nights, then Kent Simpson, who was recently brought up from the AHL, would get the call on Wednesday.

The Flyers will try to halt a two-game slide when they visit the Blackhawks on Wednesday.

It's only the third meeting between the clubs since Chicago beat Philadelphia in six games during the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. The Flyers have won both games -- one in Philadelphia and one in Chicago -- since that playoff showdown, and Philly has taken three straight and 15 of the past 17 regular- season meetings in this series.

Philadelphia lost its third decision in four games when it dropped a shootout decision Monday night in Ottawa. Jason Spezza scored in the third round of the shootout to help the Senators pick up a 5-4 win and avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Flyers.

Spezza was the final shooter for Ottawa and he slowed down in front of the net before moving to the forehand and beating Flyers goaltender Steve Mason. Sean Couturier then rung his wrister off the right post to end the game.

Kimmo Timonen, Luke Schenn and Michael Raffl each posted a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who were 2-0 against Ottawa this season heading into the final regular-season encounter between the clubs.

"We're playing teams that are very good defensively," said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. "They were all over us whenever we got the puck, and we need to find a way to create some space to skate."

Mason gave up four goals on 34 shots in the loss. The goaltender hadn't allowed four goals in any game with the Flyers since joining them at last season's trade deadline before yielding four in each of his last two outings. Mason also yielded four goals on 26 shots in Saturday's 5-1 loss in Dallas.

Ray Emery expects to get the start for Philadelphia on Wednesday against the team he helped win a championship last season. Although Emery didn't see action at all in the playoffs during Chicago's run to its second Stanley Cup in four years, he posted a 17-1-0 record during the regular season for the Presidents' Trophy winners.

Emery is 2-0-1 with a 1.99 goals against average in three career games against the Blackhawks.

12/11 10:55:28 ET

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