Philadelphia Flyers (41-29-9) at Tampa Bay Lightning (43-27-9), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers have
both punched their tickets to the postseason, but the clubs will try to
improve their playoff seeding when they meet Thursday in Central Florida.
The Lightning are back in the playoffs after a two-season absence and the club
knows it will face Montreal in the first round. Home-ice advantage in that
series is still up for grabs, however, and although Tampa Bay is three points
behind the Canadiens, the Bolts do hold a game in hand.
Montreal is playing one of its two remaining regular-season games tonight
against the visiting New York Islanders.
The Flyers, meanwhile, locked up their sixth postseason berth in seven years
with a win at Florida on Tuesday. Philadelphia missed the playoffs last spring
for only the second time since the lockout-shortened 1995 campaign.
Philadelphia is currently locked in a three-way battle for playoff seeding
with its Metropolitan Division rivals, the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York
Rangers, who also have clinched postseason berths.
The Rangers are second in the division with 93 points, while Columbus and
Philadelphia are two points behind. The team finishing second will host a
first-round series against the third-place club, leaving the fourth-place team
to settle for a wild card spot.
With three tilts left, the Flyers hold a game in hand over both the Blue
Jackets and Rangers. New York hosts Buffalo on Thursday, while Columbus is
The Flyers had lost four in a row (0-2-2) before posting a pair of 5-2
victories in their last two outings against Buffalo and the Panthers.
Tuesday's win kicked off a three-game road trip that will end Saturday in
Pittsburgh before Philly ends the regular season the following day against
Claude Giroux scored twice to help the Flyers secure their postseason berth.
Giroux has 27 goals this season and is fifth in the NHL with 81 points.
Sean Couturier, Tye McGinn and Vincent Lecavalier each had a goal for the
Flyers. Steve Mason made 38 saves and tied a career best with his 33rd win of
Philadelphia made the playoffs after firing head coach Peter Laviolette
following an 0-3 start and replacing him with Craig Berube. The Flyers were
just 4-7-1 in the first 12 games with Berube behind the bench, but have gone
"Well, it's great," said Berube. "I told the guys, 'You should be proud of
yourselves.' I mean, they went through a lot and they battled hard all year.
They're a good group of guys, good character, and they deserve a lot of credit
for making the playoffs."
Philly halted a three-game road skid on Tuesday and is 17-15-7 as the visiting
team this season.
The Lightning will play their last three games without No. 1 goaltender Ben
Bishop, who left Tuesday's game against Toronto early in the first period with
an upper-body injury. While Tampa head coach Jon Cooper wouldn't rule out
Bishop for the first round of the playoffs, it's unclear if he'll be back for
the start of the postseason.
Anders Lindback relieved the injured Bishop in net and stopped all 25 shots he
faced as the Bolts blanked the visiting Maple Leafs, 3-0, and eliminated them
from playoff contention.
Bishop went down less than six minutes into the contest. The netminder dove
after a deflection, landed on his left wrist and stayed on the ice writhing in
pain after making the save. His teammates immediately called to the bench for
assistance, and he needed help getting off the ice.
The 27-year-old Bishop is a big reason Tampa Bay is returning to the playoffs
this season and he could be in the running for the Vezina Trophy. Acquired
from Ottawa at last season's trade deadline, he is 37-14-7 with a 2.23 goals
against average and .924 save percentage this season.
The Lightning have recalled goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis from Syracuse
Crunch of the American Hockey League to replace Bishop on the roster.
Bishop had made three saves before exiting Tuesday's game, and Lindback did
the rest with seven more stops in the opening frame, 11 in the second and
seven more in the third to complete the shutout.
"It wasn't a surprise that he came in and played huge for us," said defenseman
Victor Hedman. "He made key saves when we needed him and it was a well-
deserved shutout for him."
Ondrej Palat scored two goals and Hedman added an empty-netter in the
final minute for the Lightning, who snapped a two-game skid.
Thursday's test is the fifth part of a six-game homestand for the Lightning,
who are 23-10-6 at the Forum this season. Tampa will complete the residency
Friday against Columbus before capping the regular season Sunday in
Tampa Bay is 2-0 against the Flyers this season and has taken three straight
and six of the past seven meetings in the series. The Flyers have lost five
straight and six of seven in Tampa.
04/10 11:05:13 ET
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