NHL

Flyers hope to get on track versus Maple Leafs

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The Sports Network
4/3/2009 1:17:07 PM
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(Sports Network) - The Philadelphia Flyers will try to avoid a home-and-home sweep at the hands of the Maple Leafs when they host Toronto tonight at the Wachovia Center.

The Flyers lost for the third time in four games Wednesday night, as it dropped a close decision in Toronto. The setback had allowed red-hot Pittsburgh, which beat New Jersey on Wednesday, to tie Philadelphia for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. Carolina has since taken over the fourth spot and is one point ahead of the Flyers and Penguins.

While it's unfortunate that Philly has been unable to capitalize on New Jersey's recent six-game slide, a more pressing issue is how far the Flyers could stand to fall in the East standings. The club is just three points ahead of Montreal for the conference's eighth and final postseason berth.

The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, have been officially eliminated from postseason play, but were able to successfully play the spoiler role in Wednesday's home game against the Flyers. Ian White netted the game-winner in the second period and Curtis Joseph was solid with 32 saves, as Toronto notched the 3-2 victory at Air Canada Centre.

Jamal Mayers and Lee Stempniak also scored for the Maple Leafs, who snapped a two-game skid and won for the third time in their last five games.

One humbling fact for the Maple Leafs is that for the first time ever, the club will miss the postseason for a fourth consecutive season. Also, Toronto's Stanley Cup drought will extend to 42 years thanks to the Leafs exclusion from the postseason tournament.

Claude Giroux registered a goal and an assist for the Flyers. Martin Biron was replaced by Antero Niittymaki in the second period after surrendering three goals on 28 shots. Niittymaki turned aside all 10 shots he faced for the remainder of the contest.

Toronto has taken two of three from the Flyers this year and has won four of five and 10 of the last 13 encounters between the clubs. The Leafs have lost two of their last three trips to Philadelphia, but have still won six of eight road games against the Flyers.

The Flyers are 22-12-4 as the host this season, but the club has lost two straight and three of their last four games in the City of Brotherly Love. Next up for Philadelphia is Saturday's road test against the Ottawa Senators.

Toronto has lost three of its last four road games and is just 17-18-4 as the guest this season. The Leafs will return home for Saturday's game against the rival Montreal Canadiens.

Gagne and Richards (Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
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