By Alan Ferguson
Philadelphia (42-25-10) at Ottawa (33-34-10) 7:00 p.m. EDT
OTTAWA (AP) -- The Philadelphia Flyers broke out of their recent
slump and moved back into the Eastern Conference's top four by
taking advantage of a struggling opponent.
They'll look to stay there and clinch a second straight playoff
berth against another team finishing a disappointing campaign.
However, winning in Ottawa hasn't proved easy for most opponents
lately, and it's been more difficult recently for the Flyers,
who seek just their fifth road victory in 10 seasons over the
Senators on Saturday night.
After three losses in four games, general manager Paul Holmgren
publicly criticized some of his players for their poor
performances. The Flyers responded with their best offensive
game of the season -- an 8-5 home victory Friday night over
Wrapping up a home-and-home series with the Maple Leafs,
Philadelphia scored five goals in the first period, and Jeff
Carter recorded his first NHL hat trick.
"We were sitting comfortably in fourth place, and sometimes you
lose that intensity," center Danny Briere said. "That was a
wake-up call, and we responded."
With the win, the Flyers moved one point ahead of Carolina for
fourth in the East, which carries home-ice advantage in the
first round. With a seven-point advantage over idle Florida,
Philadelphia needs a victory over the Senators to nail down its
second straight playoff appearance, but the Flyers have often
come up empty in their recent trips to Ottawa.
Since 1998-99, Philadelphia is 4-10-1 with five ties at
Scotiabank Place, and has one win in its last six road games
over the Senators. Philadelphia lost 4-1 in its previous trip
Carter moved into second in the league with 44 goals, and Simon
Gagne and Scott Hartnell have each reached 30. Claude Giroux has
also tallied a goal in three straight games, but the Flyers have
only outscored opponents by a 31-26 margin in the past eight
contests while allowing at least three goals in each of the last
In addition to scoring three of his eight goals in the last
three contests, Giroux has recorded three straight multipoint
performances, and has seven points in that span.
Although they will miss the postseason for the first time since
1995-96, the Senators have acted like a playoff team on their
home ice, where they look to win eight straight for the first
time since November 14-December 14, 2002.
Ottawa enters Saturday's game having lost four of its last five
to conclude a six-game road trip and dropping into last in the
Northeast Division. The Senators couldn't capitalize on Daniel
Alfredsson's early goal and 31 saves by Alex Auld in a 2-1
defeat to East-leading Boston on Thursday night.
"We were one shot away and it's disappointing, but the guys'
effort was definitely there," Ottawa interim coach Cory Clouston
said. "They make you pay. They're a very good team. A couple of
little turnovers like that and they make you pay."
A lagging offense can take much of the blame for the team's
recent woes as the Senators have scored 10 goals in the last
The Flyers have lost two of three meetings this season with
Ottawa, but are 4-2-1 in their last seven.