Flyers-Canes Complete Season Series Tonight

Robert SkorochockiContributor IDecember 11, 2008

When the Carolina Hurricanes (13-12-3) and Philadelphia Flyers (14-7-6) take the ice tonight, it will be quite a familiar scene.

The two teams have faced each other three times in the last 15 days, with Philadelphia winning two out of the three.  On Nov. 26, the Flyers defeated the Hurricanes 3-1 in Carolina, behind a two-goal effort from forward Simon Gagne. 

Four days later in, the Hurricanes Sergei Samsanov beat Flyers netminder Martin Biron on the blocker side in overtime for a 3-2 win in Philadelphia.

Just five days ago, the two teams would need the extra session once again, this time with Jeff Carter taking a shot right off the face-off and beating Hurricanes goalie Michael Leighton.

Tonight, it’s back to Philadelphia, where the Flyers are 5-0-2 in their last seven.

The Flyers nipped the New York Islanders Tuesday night for a 4-3 win. This was their first consecutive win since their six-game winning streak was snapped courtesy of the Hurricanes on Nov. 28. 

Simon Gagne broke a 3-3 tie on the powerplay midway through the third period on a one-timer from Mike Richards.  Martin Biron earned his 10th victory of the season in net.

However, the Flyers will likely start Antero Nittymaki in goal tonight, since he has been the goaltender to beat the Hurricanes both times this season.  Nittymaki made 27 saves in the 3-1 victory on Nov 26, and 35 saves in the victory Saturday night.  In nine starts this season Nittymaki has posted a 4-1-2 record with a GAA of 2.44 and a .918 save percentage.

The Hurricanes continue to play without their starting goaltender and 2006 Conn Smythe winner Cam Ward. Ward was put on injured reserve on December first with a groin injury.

The Hurricanes snapped a three-game losing streak with a win at home against their division arch-rival, the Washington Capitals on Sunday night.  It was their first win since losing Ward. 

Ward’s replacement Michael Leighton, who had a brief stint with the Flyers in 2007, made a huge save on a penalty shot against Alexander Ovechkin in the whining seconds of the second period.  Ray Whitney netted his eighth and ninth goals of the season to seal the win for the Canes.

Sunday night also marked Paul Maurice’s first win in returning to the Carolina bench.  The Hurricanes fired Peter Laviolette earlier this month, who brought them their first Stanley Cup in 2006. Maurice was the head coach in Carolina before Laviolette, and was fired as the Toronto Maple Leafs' head coach after last season, failing to reach the playoffs in three straight years.

Game Notes

The Flyers haven’t lost to Carolina in regulation in their last 10 meetings, posting a record of 7-0-3. 

The Hurricanes put defenseman Frantisek Kaberle on the injured reserve today due to a lower body injury. 

Flyers defenseman Matt Carle will most likely miss his fifth straight game with back spasms.