With Ilya Bryzgalov shining in goal, the Philadelphia Flyers had been nearly unbeatable since the beginning of the month.
A cloud of uncertainty, though, suddenly surrounds the team given the shaky status of its star goaltender.
Dealing with a chipped fracture in his right foot, Bryzgalov won't play Thursday night when Philadelphia tries for a four-game season sweep and a fifth consecutive road win over the recently eliminated Toronto Maple Leafs, losers of a franchise-worst 10 in a row at home.
The Flyers (44-24-8) entered Monday having won 10 of 13 in March, with Bryzgalov going 10-1-1 while recording four shutouts and a 1.22 goals-against average. Two nights, however, after helping Philadelphia clinch a playoff berth with Saturday's 4-1 win over Montreal, Bryzgalov turned away just 10 of 14 shots during a 5-3 loss to Tampa Bay.
It was later revealed Bryzgalov was injured when struck by a puck in warmups prior to start of that game. While he isn't expected to miss a significant period of time, it remains to be seen how Bryzgalov will respond to the pain when he returns.
"We don't think this is a serious injury," general manager Paul Holmgren told the team's official website. "We're hoping that he'll be back on the ice practicing with the idea that he can play on the weekend. It's just going to be a little bit of pain management for Ilya.
"Ilya wants to play, he feels like he'll be OK, but we'll just see how it goes."
With Bryzgalov sidelined, the Flyers will turn to Sergei Bobrovsky as they try to continue their recent domination in this series. Philadelphia has taken eight of nine from Toronto (33-35-9) - including four in a row at the Air Canada Centre.
The Flyers most recently posted a 1-0 shootout road win over the Maple Leafs on March 10 behind 29 saves from Bryzgalov. Bobrovsky started this season's first two meetings with Toronto, surrendering a combined five goals.
Bobrovsky doesn't carry much momentum into this matchup, going 1-5-0 with a 5.19 GAA over his last six games. He could, however, catch a break against a deflated Leafs team that hasn't prevailed at home in nearly two months.
Since defeating Edmonton 6-3 on Feb. 6, Toronto has been outscored 36-18 during its 0-7-3 skid on home ice. The Leafs were shut out for the third time over that stretch and for the fourth time in their last 10 games overall during Tuesday's 3-0 loss to Carolina - eliminating them from playoff contention for a seventh consecutive season.
"The thing is we haven't done anything good really," said forward Phil Kessel, who leads the team with 77 points. "It's frustrating for all of us. We're all disappointed obviously. We wish we could win games ... I don't really know what to think."
Jonas Gustavsson allowed all three goals in just over 20 minutes before getting pulled in favor of rookie Jussi Rynnas, who stopped 10 shots in his NHL debut. Gustavsson is 0-2-1 with a 3.27 GAA lifetime versus the Flyers. It's unknown who will be in goal Thursday.
With just two home games remaining following this contest, Toronto is running out of time to snap its brutal home losing streak.
"We can't ask for anyone else to come in and be Jesus here," defenseman Carl Gunnarsson said. "It's up to us. I don't think we need a savior, we can do it on our own. It's just a matter of turning it around and getting our minds into it and I think if everyone believes it we can do it."
Philadelphia will also be without defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.