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NHL Preview from The Sports Network

Wednesday, January 21st (All times eastern)

Atlanta Thrashers (17-25-5) at Philadelphia Flyers (24-12-9), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Flyers were expecting to have a big piece of their offense back on the ice tonight when they welcome the Atlanta Thrashers to the Wachovia Center. Instead, the club will have to wait until after this weekend's All-Star break for the return of Daniel Briere.

Briere was expected to be back this evening, but will now miss his 22nd straight game with a groin injury. Briere has played in just nine games this season, but has five goals and four assists over that stretch.

The 31-year-old forward recently played three games with the Philadelphia Phantoms, the club's AHL affiliate, in order to work on his conditioning as well as give the Flyers time to create the salary-cap space needed to make Briere's return possible.

Briere, who is in the second year of an eight-year, $52 million deal, had 72 points (31 goals, 41 assists) in 79 games last season.

The Flyers have been off since posting a close win Friday in Florida. Simon Gagne scored the lone goal of the shootout as Philadelphia nipped the Panthers, 3-2, at BankAtlantic Center.

Gagne and Jeff Carter tallied in regulation for the Flyers, who have won three of their last five games.

Antero Niittymaki made 32 saves for the win, improving to 9-3-4 on the season. Niittymaki would have been the likely starter for tonight's game thanks to a career 11-0 record against the Thrashers, but the Flyers backup netminder had been dealing with flu-like symptoms lately. However, Niittymaki appears to be recovered from the illness and his participation in Tuesday's practice suggests that he might be ready to start this evening.

The Flyers are 14-5-3 as the host this year, but had an eight-game home winning streak snapped their last game at the Wachovia Center -- a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh on January 13.

Philadelphia will aim for its 13th straight victory over the Thrashers tonight, as Atlanta hasn't beaten the Flyers since earning an overtime win in Philadelphia on November 18, 2005. The Flyers have taken 15 of the last 16 encounters between the clubs and the Thrashers have lost five straight and nine of 10 in Philadelphia.

The Thrashers are in the midst of their second-longest winning streak of the season. Atlanta has won three straight for just the second time this year, following a five-game winning streak from November 2-14.

Atlanta is coming off Tuesday's home victory over Montreal. Chris Thorburn picked up a goal and an assist and Zach Bogosian registered a key score to lead Atlanta past the Canadiens, 4-2, at Philips Arena.

Erik Christensen and Rich Peverley also tallied for the Thrashers, while Kari Lehtonen stopped 34 shots for the win.

Peverley, who was picked up off waivers from Nashville last week, has racked up two goals and five assists in four games with Atlanta.

The Thrashers, who are last in the Southeast Division with 39 points, are 8-12-3 as the road club this season and have lost four of their last five games as the visitor.

01/21 10:33:29 ET

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