Vancouver (15-12-0) at Philadelphia (13-10-1)

  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Thu Dec 3, 2009
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A lack of offense has contributed to the Philadelphia Flyers’ worst stretch of the season. The return of high-scoring Danny Briere(notes) could help them snap out of it.

Briere is expected back in uniform Thursday night when the Flyers host the Vancouver Canucks, who continue a challenging four-game road trip.

Philadelphia (13-10-1) has dropped five of six including a 1-0 loss to Atlanta on Saturday. The Flyers had won 14 straight over the Thrashers since Nov. 18, 2005.

“I’m not dissatisfied with the effort tonight, but we have to find a way to sharpen up offensively,” said Philadelphia coach John Stevens.

Briere’s return could provide a boost for a club that has been limited to 12 goals over the last six games. The diminutive right wing is Philadelphia’s second-leading goal scorer with 10, but was suspended two games for a late hit on Colorado’s Scott Hannan(notes) during the Flyers’ 5-4 loss on Nov. 24.

Briere, who set season highs with two assists and four points versus the Avalanche, missed a win over the New York Islanders and a loss to Buffalo before sitting out against Atlanta because of the flu. The Flyers scored just four times during his absence.

“Danny is a guy who is a game-breaking kind of a player. He can score big goals at key times, and he can score goals that other guys can’t,” Stevens told the Flyers’ official Web site.

Briere had a goal and two assists the last time he faced the Canucks, an 8-2 Philadelphia victory Oct. 10, 2007, in Vancouver. The Flyers also won 3-2 at GM Place last Dec. 30, when Briere was sidelined due to a groin injury.

Stevens will go with Brian Boucher(notes) in goal Thursday over Ray Emery(notes). Boucher has stopped 82 of 86 shots in his last three starts, going 2-1-0 with the loss coming against the Thrashers.

“He’s proven to us that he can play in any situation, whether he’s had a long layoff or whatever it is,” said captain Mike Richards(notes), the Flyers’ leader with 11 goals. “We’re confident in him, and he’s proven that he can steal some games for us. … It’s a good confidence boost that whenever Ray takes a night off, it’s nice to see that he’s in there and we can be confident in him and have success.”

However, Boucher has not fared well against the Canucks, going 2-6-0 with a tie and a 3.78 goals-against average.

Vancouver is 2-5-1 against the Flyers this decade with both wins coming on the road. The Canucks (15-12-0) haven’t visited Philadelphia since Dec. 15, 2005, when they scored three third-period goals en route to a 5-4 victory.

Coach Alain Vigneault told the Canucks’ official Web site that his team had high expectations heading into an eight-day road trip that concludes with stops at Carolina and Nashville. Vancouver jumped out to a quick start in the opener of the trip Wednesday at New Jersey and pulled away late for a 5-2 win.

Alex Burrows(notes), Sami Salo(notes) and Daniel Sedin(notes) staked the Canucks to a 3-0 first-period lead. After that was whittled to one, Alexander Edler(notes) and Jannik Hansen(notes) scored in the third.

Vancouver has scored 13 goals while winning its last two on the road, where they’re 5-8-0.

Roberto Luongo(notes) made 27 saves Wednesday to beat Martin Brodeur(notes) in a matchup of likely Olympic teammates. The Montreal natives are expected to represent Canada at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.

“I’ve got to check my phone to see if Steve Yzerman texted me,” said Luongo with a smile, referring to the executive director of Canada’s Olympic team.

It’s been nearly six years since Luongo has beaten Philadelphia. Following a 4-3 overtime win on Jan. 8, 2004 while with Florida, Luongo is 0-2-2 with a tie and 4.06 GAA.

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Thursday, Dec 3