December 28, 2014

Claude Giroux has kept the Philadelphia Flyers afloat all season, but it might be Radko Gudas who lifts them into the playoffs.

With both contributing offensively of late, the Flyers look to continue a hot stretch with a season sweep of the host Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night.

Philadelphia (36-24-13) has been on a roll offensively during a 12-3-3 run, averaging 3.39 goals - much higher than its season average of 2.6.

Giroux has led the charge with goals in three straight games to give him 21 to go with 41 assists on the season. It's been an unexpected source of offense, though, that's helped the Flyers take possession of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot.

Gudas scored seven combined goals in his first three NHL seasons with Tampa Bay and didn't have any through his first 57 games with the Flyers. However, he has five to go with three assists in the last 10 as Philadelphia has picked up 16 of a possible 20 points.

The defenseman scored the tying goal with 5:43 left at Colorado on Thursday and Giroux netted the go-ahead tally 19 seconds later. Ryan White sealed the 4-2 victory with an empty netter, moving the Flyers to 2-0-1 on their four-game road trip.

''It's awesome being a part of it and contributing for the team,'' Gudas said. ''Especially for these important games at this crucial time of the season.''

Philadelphia's 85 points match ninth-place Detroit's total, though the Flyers have a game in hand. Their unsettled situation could result in them climbing into a top-three spot in the Metropolitan Division or missing the playoffs altogether.

Finishing a sweep of Arizona would help before they play five of their final eight games at home. The Flyers have gone 4-0-2 in their last six on the road.

Giroux was among four Philadelphia players to score in a 4-2 home win over the Coyotes on Feb. 27, the Flyers' second straight victory in the series.

Arizona (33-34-7) has won four of its last five at home, holding opponents to seven goals in that span.

After surrendering 15 goals over the final three of a season-high seven-game skid, the Coyotes haven't allowed more than three in a game during a 6-3-1 stretch - though they sit 10 points back of Minnesota for the West's final playoff spot with the Avalanche in between.

Martin Hanzal scored the 100th and 101st goals of his career in Thursday's 3-1 win over East-leading Dallas. He also had a goal and an assist in Tuesday's 4-2 victory over Edmonton, which followed the Coyotes being shut out in back-to-back games.

Tobias Rieder has also scored the last two contests.

"Everybody has to play for something, so we can't just pack it in," Rieder told the team's official website. "It's a privilege to play in this league and you want to do your best."

Mike Smith has been hot in net with a 1.25 goals-against average while winning three of his last four starts, including one of his two shutouts.

Smith, though, has gone 0-6-1 with a 4.90 GAA in his last seven starts against Philadelphia for Tampa Bay and Arizona.

The Flyers' Steve Mason is 5-8 with a 2.95 GAA against the Coyotes in his career.

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