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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, December 4th (All times eastern)

New Jersey Devils (12-8-2) at Philadelphia Flyers (12-7-5), 7 p.m.

(Sports Network) - An intense rivalry between Atlantic Division combatants is on tap tonight in Philadelphia, as the Flyers welcome the New Jersey Devils to the Wachovia Center.

The Flyers have won seven of their last nine games, while New Jersey had a five-game winning streak halted their last time on the ice. Philly is currently third in the Atlantic with 29 points and the Devils are just three points behind.

The Devils had dominated Philadelphia in recent years, but the Flyers are 2-0 against Jersey so far this season, sweeping a home-and-home series on October 24 and 25. The Flyers have now won three straight in the series, but the Devils have still taken eight of 12 and 16 of the last 21 encounters overall.

Philadelphia has won two straight and four of its last seven home tests against the Devils.

New Jersey last played on Saturday in Pittsburgh and had its hot streak snapped by the Penguins. Sidney Crosby recorded his first hat trick of the season and picked up four points to lead Pittsburgh to the easy 4-1 decision at Mellon Arena. Former Devil Petr Sykora also lit the lamp for the Pens.

Michael Rupp provided the only offense for the Devils, while Scott Clemmensen had a personal four-start win streak snapped after allowing three scores on 34 shots.

Brian Gionta had an assist in the loss to extend his point streak to seven games. He has five goals and five helpers during the tear and hopes to continue the streak tonight against the Flyers, a team he has 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists) against in 33 career games.

The Devils are 2-1 on a five-game road trip that ends Saturday in Montreal. Jersey is 5-4-1 as the visiting team this season.

Philadelphia had lost two straight on the heels of a season-high six-game winning streak, but got back in the win column Tuesday night against visiting Tampa Bay. Mike Richards' power-play blast 2:05 into overtime sent the Flyers to the 4-3 triumph at the Wachovia Center.

With Ryan Malone off for interference, Kimmo Timonen held the puck in the left circle and left a perfect no-look backhand pass for Richards, who blasted the game-winner high and inside the right post.

Richards netted two goals, as did Jeff Carter for the Flyers, who wasted a two-goal lead but recovered to snap a two-game slide. Timonen and Joffrey Lupul each added a pair of assists.

Carter comes into tonight's test tied with Buffalo's Thomas Vanek for the league lead in goals with 18.

Martin Biron overcame a rough night and made 34 saves for the win.

On the injury front, Flyers center Daniel Briere will miss the next four to five weeks with a groin strain. Briere left Tuesday's win over the Bolts after taking a hit in the second period. Prior to that contest, he had missed 14 of the previous 16 games with a series of injuries.

In only nine games played this season, Briere has five goals and four assists with 10 penalty minutes.

The Flyers are 6-4-2 as the host this year and have won four of their last five in the City of Brotherly Love. Philly will visit Carolina on Saturday before returning home for a four-game homestand.

12/04 10:51:44 ET


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