Flyers-Canadiens Preview

The Associated Press

Injuries have slowed down their top scorer and captain, but not the Philadelphia Flyers.

Even without Claude Giroux and Chris Pronger - and the team far from certain when they'll return - the Flyers are going for their longest winning streak in nearly a decade Thursday night when they visit the Montreal Canadiens.

"We're missing Claude and Chris Pronger. It's pretty hard to replace those guys," general manager Paul Holmgren said. "But other guys have played better."

Holmgren knew Pronger would be gone for at least the next two weeks following knee surgery, but said over the weekend the star defenseman would be sidelined indefinitely due to concussion-like symptoms. A similar announcement was made Tuesday on Giroux, having a breakout season with 16 goals and 23 assists.

While used to being without the oft-injured Pronger since his arrival 2 1/2 years ago, the Flyers (19-7-3) hadn't played without Giroux since March 2009 until Tuesday. They hardly seemed to miss him, rolling past Washington 5-1 for their sixth straight win.

"As I've said many years, it's a team sport and if everybody's doing their job and you have a good team, it doesn't matter how many guys we're missing," defenseman Kimmo Timonen said.

This is the seventh time in nine years the Flyers have had a six-game win streak, but they haven't had a longer one since winning eight straight Jan. 6-19, 2002.

Scott Hartnell has keyed this run, scoring in all six games while posting a plus-8 rating. The 11-year veteran is already halfway to his career high of 30 goals.

Wayne Simmonds, whose inadvertent knee to Giroux's head Saturday caused the injury, scored for the third consecutive game Tuesday. Rookie Marc-Andre Bourdon notched his first NHL goal and fellow suburban Montreal native Max Talbot scored his eighth, matching his total from 82 games with Pittsburgh last season.

"Everybody's stepped up," Bourdon said. "That's what a team is. Even when you're missing a player or two, you can still win."

Philadelphia is averaging a league-best 3.66 goals and has scored 26 during the win streak, as Danny Briere and Jaromir Jagr each have pitched in eight points.

That leaves a lot of pressure on Montreal's Carey Price, expected to make a seventh straight start and league-high 28th. Price is 3-0-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average in his last five games.

"Our goaltender has to be huge and he has been," defenseman Josh Gorges said. "His ability to get down and take away anything through the crease or back door, he himself pretty much takes away three options."

Price has stopped 54 of 58 shots in splitting two meetings with the Flyers this season, and he's one of three goaltenders to hand them a regulation road loss - 5-1 on Oct. 26. Montreal (13-11-7) lost 3-1 in Philadelphia on Nov. 25 as Giroux scored twice.

While the Flyers' 11 road wins top the NHL, the Canadiens' 11 home losses are one shy of the league lead. They had lost four straight at home before beating the New York Islanders 5-3 on Tuesday.

Winger Travis Moen left the game after being struck on the foot, and his status for Thursday is uncertain. However, defenseman Chris Campoli played for the first time since suffering a lower-body injury in the season opener.

Fellow blueliner Tomas Kaberle has three points in two games since being acquired from Carolina on Friday.

Ilya Bryzgalov has been in net for every game during Philadelphia's win streak but has lost all four lifetime starts versus Montreal, posting a 3.75 GAA.

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