NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 27 (All times Eastern)
Arizona Coyotes (16-25-5) at Philadelphia Flyers (19-22-7), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers entered the All-Star break with a thrilling win over one of their biggest rivals.
Craig Berube's club hopes to continue a lengthy homestand with another victory when it welcomes the Arizona Coyotes for Tuesday's battle at Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers won two of three before the league went on hiatus for the mid- season showcase, which was held this past weekend in Columbus. Philadelphia's final tilt before the break came last Tuesday when it kicked off a five-game homestand with a 3-2 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Claude Giroux, who along with NHL leading scorer Jakub Voracek represented the Flyers at All-Star weekend, scored the winning goal against the Pens with 1:03 remaining in the extra session.
Giroux's marker ended a spirited battle which featured several fights and saw the Pennsylvania rivals combine for a total of 93 penalty minutes. Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo also was ejected from the game after taking a vicious boarding penalty against Kris Letang. On Monday, the league handed Rinaldo an eight-game suspension for the hit.
Forward Ryan White was recalled from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL to take Rinaldo's roster spot.
Chris VandeVelde and Luke Schenn also scored for the Flyers, while Ray Emery stopped 33 shots in the win, which pushed Philly to 12-7-3 as the host.
"Pitt brings out that in all of us," said Philadelphia head coach Craig Berube. "You know there was a lot of emotion in the game, a lot of physical play. Guys were battling for each other, and we played a real good hockey game."
Berube hopes his squad can dial up the intensity tonight against a non- conference opponent. The Flyers enter today's action 12 points out of a playoff spot in the East and really need to pick up the pace down the stretch to avoid missing the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
Flyers No. 1 goaltender Steve Mason is nearing a return from a lower-body injury, and although he is not expected to start tonight, the plan is for Mason, who has sat out the last six games, to serve as the backup to Emery.
Voracek is leading the NHL with 56 points in 48 games. He showed no signs of slowing down at the All-Star Game, recording three goals and three assists for Team Toews in its 17-12 victory. The six points tied former Pittsburgh great Mario Lemieux's All-Star record.
The Coyotes will aim for their first win in over two weeks tonight when they continue a road trip that began before the hiatus. Arizona lost six straight (0-5-1) before the All-Star break and it sits 16 points out of a playoff spot in the West.
Arizona, which hasn't tasted victory since beating the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 8, is 0-2-1 at the start of an eight-game swing. The Coyotes' last game before the break resulted in a 6-1 loss to Chicago, which unleashed 51 shots on Arizona.
Mike Smith made 45 saves in the blowout loss, while Lucas Lessio provided all of Arizona's offense with his first career goal.
"We started out okay, but then they got that first goal and everything fell apart," said Arizona head coach Dave Tippett. "We've got to come up with some kind of plan, because this is unacceptable."
The setback dropped the Coyotes to 7-13-2 on the road this season. Arizona has lost four in a row as the guest since last winning away from the desert against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 23.
Smith is expected to start tonight and owns a 4-7-1 record and 3.80 goals against average in his career against Philadelphia.
Arizona recorded a 4-2 home win over the Flyers on Dec. 29. Devan Dubnyk, who has since been traded to Minnesota, picked up the win for the Coyotes with 30 saves, while Antoine Vermette led the Arizona offense with two goals and an assist.
The Coyotes have taken two of three overall in this series and own a 3-1-1 mark in their last five trips to Philly.
01/27 11:53:32 ET