Carolina (26-21-7) at Philadelphia (35-13-5)

By NICOLINO DIBENEDETTO, STATS Writer Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011 Puck Drop: 7:00 pm EST Thu Feb 10, 2011

The Philadelphia Flyers are on a roll so far in 2011 as they focus on winning the Eastern Conference. Two meetings in just over a week with the Carolina Hurricanes may only help their cause.

The Flyers look to continue their dominance of the Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

Philadelphia (35-13-5) has won 12 of 15 since the start of the new year to move atop the conference and three points ahead of injury-plagued Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division.

The Flyers aren’t prepared to relinquish those spots anytime soon.

“Home ice in the playoffs is the only thing we think about,” captain Mike Richards(notes) told the team’s official website.

Facing Carolina (26-21-7) may just keep Philadelphia rolling. The Flyers haven’t lost in regulation to Hurricanes since Dec. 19, 2006, going 14-0-3 with eight straight wins.

They’ll conclude the season series Feb. 18 in Raleigh, where Philadelphia set a season high for goals with an 8-1 rout on Nov. 11.

Still, Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is wary of getting overconfident despite his team winning four in a row at home over the Hurricanes.

“They’re all dangerous,” said Laviolette, who guided Carolina to the Stanley Cup in 2006. “I think it’s really important that we worry about our game down the stretch, not the opponent. You always need to know where they’re at and what’s going on in their locker room, but it comes down to our game and how we play.”

The Flyers have won six of seven at home, holding opponents to two goals or fewer in those victories—including a 3-1 win over Dallas on Saturday.

Jeff Carter(notes), who scored against the Stars, has been on a tear of late with nine goals and five assists over the last 11 games. His 25 goals this season are one behind Danny Briere(notes) for the team lead, and Carter is two points shy of Claude Giroux’s(notes) team-high 50.

Carter has feasted on the Hurricanes, recording a hat trick on Nov. 11 to give him nine goals and nine assists in the past 11 meetings. He has six goals and 10 assists in 11 home matchups.

After dropping three of its last four, eighth-place Carolina has a one-point lead over Atlanta in the East. The Hurricanes opened a five-game trip Tuesday by wasting two leads and falling 3-2 in overtime to New Jersey.

“When you have a lead like that, you’re supposed to win the game,” said All-Star Jeff Skinner(notes), who scored his 19th and 20th goals and leads all rookies with 43 points. “We didn’t play a sharp game.”

Cam Ward(notes) finished with 31 saves, but it’s not immediately known who will start in goal Thursday.

Ward is 1-7-1 with a 3.24 goals-against average in his last nine games versus the Flyers. The only win came in Philadelphia on Nov. 28, 2008.

Justin Peters(notes), who hasn’t started since Jan. 9, dropped his only career start at the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 1 after making 34 saves in a 3-2 defeat.

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