NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 17th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (22-16-7) at Philadelphia Flyers (26-13-4), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Flyers will try to get back on track tonight when they return home to host the Minnesota Wild in an interconference battle at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers had won two straight and four of five heading into Saturday's game in Nashville, but were dealt a 4-2 loss by the Predators.
With that setback in the Music City, Philadelphia completed its four-game road trip with a 2-2 mark and the club will begin a brief two-game homestand tonight. All told, the Flyers enter tonight having played 15 of their previous 21 games on the road, but they will host six of eight and 11 of their next 15 contests.
"It seems like the whole month of December we've been on the road and to start the New Year," Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds recently told his team's official website. "It'll be nice to come back home to our fans and get a couple points there."
The Flyers, who will also host the New York Islanders on Thursday, are 10-6-2 on home ice this year compared to a 16-7-2 mark as the guest.
Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds scored goals for the Flyers on Saturday, while Ilya Bryzgalov was tagged for three goals on 24 shots in the setback.
Philadelphia played its first game without winger James van Riemsdyk, who is sidelined with a concussion. Van Riemsdyk has 11 goals and 11 assists in 37 games this season and there is no timetable for his return.
Minnesota, meanwhile, will be without its leading scorer for at least the next few weeks and possibly for more than a month, as All-Star forward Mikko Koivu injured his left shoulder in Saturday's loss in St. Louis.
Koivu, who has a team-high 33 points, was called "week-to-week" by Wild head coach Mike Yeo and reports suggest that the Finnish centerman could miss up six weeks of action. Koivu was named an All-Star for the first time in his career this season, but it seems unlikely that he will be able to partake in the midseason festivities in Ottawa.
The injury to Koivu is the last thing Minnesota needs right now, as Yeo's club has lost 13 of its last 15 games and is still desperately trying to stop its fall down the Western Conference standings. The Wild led the NHL with 43 points back on Dec. 10, but if the season ended today, Minnesota would be the eighth seed in the West with 51 points.
The Wild have lost their last two games, but were able to record a point in Saturday's shootout loss in St. Louis. Kevin Shattenkirk scored the game- winning goal in the second round of the shootout, sending the Blues to a 3-2 win at Scottrade Center.
"If we keep having efforts like that then we're going to give ourselves a great chance," Yeo said. "That for me is really impressive effort from our guys tonight."
David McIntyre and Jared Spurgeon lit the lamp for Minnesota, while Josh Harding made 47 saves -- a career high -- in the loss. Harding could get the call in net again tonight, as fellow netminder Niklas Backstrom has sat out the last two games due to an illness.
Tonight marks the third stop on a four-game road trip for the Wild, who have lost nine straight as the guest and are 10-10-4 away from St. Paul this season.
The Flyers have taken five of the last seven meetings with the Wild and Minnesota has dropped five of its seven all-time tests in Philadelphia.
01/17 10:43:14 ET