But coming off their recent stretches, it’s the Flyers who hold the momentum entering Thursday’s meeting with the Maple Leafs at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia (15-33-8) is trying to match its season-high three-game winning streak set Dec. 28-Jan. 2 after beating the Detroit Red Wings 6-1 on Monday. The Flyers notched two short-handed goals and one on the power play to win back-to-back home games after losing a team-record 13 straight there.
Philadelphia is 2-0-1 on its current four-game homestand and has earned a point in seven of its last eight overall contests.
“We know where we are in the standings, we’re not feeling good about the season, but lately we’ve been playing better and with more confidence,” said Flyers center Peter Forsberg, who scored the go-ahead goal and added an assist Monday. “It feels great winning games.”
Forsberg, a former Hart Trophy winner, has three goals and eight assists in his last seven games but also has been the subject of trade rumors as the Feb. 27 deadline approaches. He met with Flyers chairman Ed Snider on Sunday, but wouldn’t discuss the meeting or whether he would like to stay with the team.
After Monday’s game, though, the focus was on a win over one of the Western Conference’s best teams.
“This is kind of what we’ve been pushing for,” said Flyers coach John Stevens, whose squad has 38 points—16 fewer than any other team in the East. “It’s something we’re trying to get in place here.”
R.J. Umberger scored twice while Flyers leading-scorer Simon Gagne added a goal and an assist to bring his totals to five goals and two assists in the last three games. Gagne, though, has failed to notch a point in his last three games against Toronto, which is trying to avoid its fourth straight loss.
The Maple Leafs (27-22-8) are looking to make up ground in the postseason race as their 62 points are two behind eighth-place Montreal. Toronto has dropped three straight games, including the last two beyond regulation, following a season-high five-game winning streak.
Bates Battaglia tied the game midway through the second period Tuesday to force the extra session, but the Maple leafs lost 3-2 in a shootout to the New York Islanders. Toronto outshot the Islanders 41-20 in the defeat, including 16-1 in the third period.
“What do you say after a game like that?” said Maple Leafs center Mats Sundin, who had his seven-game point streak snapped. “We had all kinds of chances to score, chances to win.”
Sundin has at least one point in his last four meetings with Philadelphia, including an assist on Nik Antropov’s go-ahead goal in a 4-1 victory on Nov. 6. The Maples Leafs have won five of the last six meetings between the teams and are playing well on the road lately, going 8-2-0 in their last 10 games there.
Goaltender Andrew Raycroft has made 18 straight starts for Toronto and is 2-1 with one tie and a 1.96 goals-against average in his last four starts versus the Flyers. Michael Leighton has won consecutive starts for Philadelphia since being called up on Feb. 4.
Toronto’s John Pohl was sidelined Tuesday with back spasms, while Kris Newbury has returned to practice and is day-to-day after being taken off the ice on a stretcher in Saturday’s loss to Pittsburgh.
The rookie center took several punches to the head during a fight with the Penguins’ Ronald Petrovicky before falling to the ice and laying motionless for several minutes. Tests showed he didn’t sustain any fractures to his skull or neck.