FLYERS, BLUES BOTH NEED WINS TONIGHT FOR FAR DIFFERENT REASONS

Blues’ coach Ken Hitchcock is another former Flyer head man who has prospered after being fired in Philly.

By Mary Cunningham

The Flyers’ march to or out of the Stanley Cup playoffs continues tonight at the Wells against the St. Louis Blues, who need a win as badly as the orange and black do.

The difference is that the Blues need the win to catch the Nashville Predators for second place in the Western conference, while the Flyers are desperate just to make the post-season.

Philly is five points back of Boston for the last of eight spots in the Eastern conference race.

St. Louis traded for veteran forward Olli Jokinen and defensemen Zbynek Michalek and Robert Bortuzzo. The latter two will try to make up for Kevin Shattenkirk’s loss to abdominal surgery, but Michalek is currently recovering from a concussion.

Only Bortuzzo is expected to play in Philly and will try to help his new club bounce back from its lone loss so far on this road stretch. The Blues (40-18-5) rallied from a three-goal deficit in the final 12 minutes of regulation Sunday against Vancouver but took a 6-5 shootout defeat.

The one point put St. Louis within four of a slumping Nashville, which faces the New York Islanders on Thursday, in the Central. Even with that defeat, the Blues are 9-1-1 in their last 11 road games.

Philly which is 1-2-1 in its last four games overall, nearly rallied for a fourth consecutive home win Tuesday.

The Flyers (27-25-12) erased a two-goal deficit in the first nine minutes of the third period against Calgary but Jiri Hudler sent them to a 3-2 overtime defeat. The result left them five points behind Boston for the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot with Florida in between.

“We should have been able to close it out,” goaltender Steve Mason said.

The Blues are 4-1-1 in their last six against the Flyers heading into this season’s first matchup. They’re 1-1-2 in their last four visits to Philly and 3-9-2 with one tie in their last 15 trips since the beginning of the 1991-92 season.

Brian Elliott will likely start for St. Louis and face Philly for the first time since a 4-2 road win Oct. 22, 2011. He’s 4-2-0 with a 2.55 GAA in six career starts against the Flyers.

Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek has six goals and six assists in his last 11 games versus St. Louis, but has one goal and four assists in his past nine contests.

The teams meet again next Thursday in St. Louis.

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