Though the Philadelphia Flyers started their season-high road trip with disappointing results, they have a good shot to obtain a better outcome on their next stop.
The Flyers continue their six-game swing on Tuesday night in a city where they haven’t lost in nearly 20 years as they face the Vancouver Canucks.
Philadelphia (19-10-7) has climbed into second in the Atlantic Division by collecting 34 points with a 15-4-4 record since Nov. 11. Only Eastern Conference-leading Boston has gained more points (39) in that span.
But the Flyers haven’t been as sharp in the first two contests of their current trip, falling 5-1 in Chicago on Friday and enduring their first shutout of the season, 3-0 at Columbus on Saturday. They’ve been outshot by a combined 71-38 in those contests.
Though weather conditions complicated Philadelphia’s travel and practice times over the weekend, coach John Stevens refused to blame those issues.
Instead, he indicated that overall improvement, particularly on the penalty kill, is necessary to avoid the team’s first three-game losing streak since Nov. 2-8.
In the last 11 contests, opponents have converted 23.2 percent (13-for-56) of their man-advantage chances against the Flyers. Chicago went 2-for-8, while Columbus scored on one of its six opportunities.
“We can’t make excuses right now,” said Stevens, whose team has dropped four straight road contests. “We’ve got to regroup, we’ve got to tighten up, we’ve got to do the little things better. That includes staying out of the penalty box early in the game.”
Aside from avoiding mistakes, Philadelphia also looks to re-energize an offense that is averaging 3.39 goals, but has been kept scoreless in five consecutive periods since captain Mike Richards found the back of the net 7:42 into the game at Chicago.
Offensive production, though, hasn’t been a problem for the Flyers against the Canucks recently, especially on the road. They’ve totaled 65 goals in winning 12 of the last 15 matchups overall, and have outscored the Canucks 32-10 during a six-game winning streak in Vancouver that dates back to Dec. 31, 1995.
Philadelphia has nine wins and four ties since its last loss in Vancouver, 5-3 on Jan. 17, 1989. In the teams’ only meeting there over the last six-plus seasons, Richards had two goals and two assists to lead Philadelphia to an 8-2 victory on Oct. 10, 2007.
That’s the most goals the Canucks (20-14-3) have allowed in any game of the past four seasons, but they have been fairly stingy on defense this season as one of only four Western Conference teams yet to give up 100 goals.
“We played with discipline and we played with structure. We played with a lot of speed,” said Sanford, who improved to 3-2-0 with a 1.78 goals-against average in his last six games.
Luongo is among five Canucks regulars sidelined by injury after winger Taylor Pyatt broke his right foot in Friday night’s loss to Edmonton. Pyatt is expected to miss four weeks, while Luongo likely won’t return before the All-Star break due to a groin problem.
On Tuesday, Vancouver will conclude a three-game stretch at home, where it is 11-5-1. Daniel Sedin, the team leader with 37 points, has eight goals and five assists in his last nine home games.