The Philadelphia Flyers have quite a run going against the Atlanta Thrashers. This may be a good chance for the Thrashers to finally end it because some key Flyers that kept it going, particularly one in net, won’t be on the ice.
Atlanta looks to prevent Philadelphia from setting a franchise record for the longest winning streak over one opponent when the teams begin their season series Saturday night at Philips Arena.
The Flyers (13-9-1) have won 14 in a row over the Thrashers since a 6-5 overtime loss Nov. 18, 2005. That’s the club record for most consecutive victories over a team, also achieved against Los Angeles from April 1, 1978-Jan. 5, 1982.
Niittymaki moved on via free agency and so did Mike Knuble(notes), who had five goals in last season’s four meetings with Atlanta. Joffrey Lupul(notes), who scored four in that sweep, has since been traded to Anaheim. Simon Gagne(notes) has 18 points in 16 career games versus the Thrashers, including six points last season, but remains sidelined following hip and abdominal surgery.
One player Philadelphia will have back is Danny Briere(notes) after he served a two-game suspension for a late hit at Colorado on Monday. The Flyers were held to two goals in each game without Briere, who is tied for the team lead with 10.
Both clubs played Friday but only the Thrashers took away some momentum, scoring five goals in the final 14 minutes to win 6-4 at Carolina.
After Slava Kozlov(notes) scored for the third straight game to spark the third-period outburst, Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) ended a season-high three-game goal drought with his team-leading 13th and assisted on Maxim Afinogenov’s(notes) game-tying goal.
“I think we can still get better,” Little said. “We only played one period tonight - the third. Once we get that figured out, and once we play a full 60 minutes, we’re going to be even more dangerous.”
The Thrashers should be happy not to see Niittymaki, who has a career 1.86 goals-against average against them, whereas current Flyers starter Ray Emery(notes) has a 3.57 GAA versus Atlanta and has been struggling overall.
It’s possible Boucher will be in net so Philadelphia can avoid starting Emery on back-to-back days. Emery gave up two third-period goals in a 4-2 home loss to Buffalo on Friday.
The Flyers have dropped four of five after winning seven of the previous eight.
“You’re not getting any breaks right now,” coach John Stevens said. “It’s up to us to work hard to get those breaks.”
Philadelphia has won nine straight in Atlanta dating to Dec. 21, 2003, and the Thrashers are 4-5-2 at home this season. They’ve lost three straight at Philips Arena.