NHL Hockey

Flyers brace for back-to-back vs. Red Wings

The Philadelphia Flyers have a lot of ground to make up to nab a playoff spot. A couple of victories over rebuilding Detroit would help the cause.

The Eastern Conference foes will play a home-and-home set this weekend, beginning with an afternoon game in Philadelphia on Saturday.

Despite going 10-1-1 over their last 12 games, the Flyers have the 11th best record in the conference. They had three days off to prepare for the Red Wings, who have won their last two games.

"Once in awhile I look at the standing. You kind of know where you are if we win or if we lose, but more likely you look at how the other team's are playing," right wing Jakub Voracek told the team's website. "You can't afford to lose many games, that's for sure, but the way we are playing, we're pretty comfortable right now, we can sneak in somehow."

Voracek is doing his part to keep the Flyers' hopes alive. He carries an eight-game point streak into the weekend.

James van Riemsdyk scored two goals in Philadelphia's most recent outing, a 5-4 win over Minnesota on Tuesday. He now has 15 goals and 28 points, fifth-most on the team. The Flyers were down 3-1 after the first period and had lost the previous night 4-1 to Pittsburgh but displayed resiliency by rallying against the Wild.

"A couple of guys were vocal in the locker room in between," goaltender Anthony Stolarz said. "This isn't an easy back-to-back, a two-hour flight (Monday) and having to play. It was tough, but we battled back."

Claude Giroux leads the club with 61 points, while Sean Couturier ranks second with 50. Voracek's recent surge has increased his point total to 49.

Dylan Larkin leads Detroit with 54 points but Andreas Athanasiou has been the main offensive threat this week in 3-2 victories over Nashville and Ottawa. He scored three goals, his first tallies in more than a month.

Athanasiou, who has 37 points, scored on a penalty shot for the second time this season against the Senators.

That helped goaltender Jimmy Howard collect a victory in his 500th career game.

"It was a great feeling to help get 1/8Howard 3/8 a win on his big day," Athanasiou told the team's website. "I had a stretch with a ton of chances but not a lot of puck luck, and now that seems to be turning around."

Howard had to work hard to earn the win, as he turned aside 40 shots.

"Our second period was as bad as things have been around here for a while, and we weren't much better in the third," defenseman Niklas Kronwall told the team's website. "They probably would have had a few more goals if not for 1/8Howard 3/8."

Larkin had an assist, giving him 13 points in his last 11 games. Athanasiou's two-goal game upped his season total to 20.

"It is nice to get my 20th goal, and I'm sure a lot of guys think that's a big deal, but I've never put a number on what I want to do," Athanasiou said. "I just try to create as many chances as I can and try to finish some of them off."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 15, 2019

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