The Philadelphia Flyers won't see their home ice for much of the next two-plus weeks, but they will get a chance to secure their longest win streak at the Wells Fargo Center in eight seasons before heading into the Christmas break.
The Flyers will seek to earn a ninth consecutive home win Monday night by adding to the Minnesota Wild's recent woes.
Philadelphia (16-16-4) begins a six-game trip when it returns from its hiatus Saturday, but first, the Flyers will try to produce their first nine-game win streak at the Wells Fargo Center since Oct. 7-Nov. 12, 2005.
"It's going to be a big game for us," goaltender Steve Mason said. "We can go into the Christmas break with a big win and carry that momentum through to our long road trip that we have coming up."
Philadelphia will also try to bounce back from a lackluster effort in its most recent game that ended a four-game point streak. Not even the return of veteran center Vincent Lecavalier could help the Flyers on Saturday, and they gave up four third-period goals in a 6-3 loss in Columbus.
Lecavalier, who has a team-best five power-play goals, missed the previous nine games with a non-displaced fracture in his back. He assisted on Sean Couturier's goal in the second period, which completed a comeback from an early two-goal deficit, and Wayne Simmonds started that rally with the first of his two goals.
The Flyers have scored three or more goals in a season-high four consecutive games but couldn't get a puck in the net in their only other matchup with Minnesota this season. Josh Harding made 21 saves in a 2-0 home victory for the Wild on Dec. 2 but is out until after the break as he adjusts his medication for multiple sclerosis.
Harding is 18-5-3 with a league-best 1.51 goals-against average, and his absence has been noticeable in the Wild's past two games. Minnesota (20-12-5) has given up a combined nine goals in back-to-back losses and its five allowed in a loss in Pittsburgh on Thursday was the most since a 6-2 defeat in Montreal on Nov. 19.
The Wild have also struggled to score of late with 21 goals during a 5-8-1 stretch. Jason Pominville had the only score in a 4-1 loss at the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Minnesota has also been outscored 24-8 while going 1-6-1 in its last eight road games.
"When you put yourself in a hole, it's hard to get out of it when goals have been tough to come by and overall you're just not feeling good about the way we've been playing,'' forward Zach Parise said. "It's just been a frustrating stretch for us.
"We've got to find a way to score. That's the bottom line. We're not scoring. We're not giving ourselves a chance."
Minnesota is 2-6-0 all-time in Philadelphia and was routed 5-1 in its most recent visit Jan. 17, 2012. The Flyers, however, will have to make some changes to their defense before this one.
Erik Gustafsson is expected to miss the next two weeks with a sprained left knee and it's unknown if fellow blueliner Nicklas Grossmann will return from an illness that kept him out of Saturday's loss. Grossmann leads the team with 92 blocked shots.
Flyers winger Steve Downie is expected to miss another week because of an upper-body injury.
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