Maple Leafs-Flyers Preview
With little room for error in their final push for the playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers hope a return home will help them avoid losing three in a row for the first time in almost two months.
In the first of their final two regular-season home contests, the Flyers try for a fourth straight victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night against the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs.
Philadelphia (39-27-13) recorded three straight one-goal victories to sweep its most recent homestand, then was outscored 9-2 in consecutive defeats at Pittsburgh and Detroit. The Flyers, who last dropped three straight Feb. 6-9, recorded 24 shots in the final two periods Wednesday but fell 3-0 to the Red Wings.
''We didn't get the job done so we just have to pivot real quick and look at the two points (Thursday) night,'' Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said.
Philadelphia is tied with Boston for the final wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers hold that spot by having a game in hand over the Bruins.
"We have to have a killer instinct now," goaltender Steve Mason told the Flyers' official website. "We can't let these games get away from us."
The Bruins host the Red Wings on Thursday and Ottawa in Saturday's finale.
Philadelphia concludes its home schedule Saturday against Pittsburgh then ends the regular season at the New York Islanders the next day.
The Flyers went 0 for 6 on the power play against the Penguins and Red Wings, but were 4 for 7 in the last two at home.
Mason allowed seven goals in the last two games, but has a 1.72 ERA while winning seven of his last eight at home. However, he has yielded three goals each in two games against the Maple Leafs this season.
Philadelphia won 5-4 in overtime at Toronto on Feb. 20 after falling 3-2 to the Maple Leafs (28-41-11) on Jan. 19.
The owner of a league-low 67 points, the Maple Leafs have dropped four in a row and six of seven. Morgan Rielly opened the scoring in the second period Wednesday with a short-handed goal but Columbus took over to hand Toronto a 5-1 defeat in its home finale.
''There's lots of good things that are going on in the organization,'' Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. ''But (Wednesday) wasn't one of those things though, so let's not kid ourselves. That effort and the execution of that effort is not good enough and it's unacceptable."
Toronto, which will pick no worse than fifth in the June draft, hasn't had the No. 1 overall selection since 1985 when it took Wendel Clark.
''There's no question we've got lots of work to do,'' Babcock said. "The reality is this isn't what you want. The exciting time of the year is just about ready to start."
Rielly has recorded three of his career-high 36 points in three games after failing to record one in his previous four contests.
Philadelphia rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has scored two of his 16 goals against Toronto this season, but has none in the last 11 contests after tallying four in a four-game span.