By Jack Ryan
The Flyers take their new-found scoring punch out for a spin tonight in Music City, and the stingy Nashville Predators, who have given up one goal in each of its last five games, stand in their way.
The Flyers would love to score at least four goals en route to a third straight win tonight and the Predators look to extend a historic defensive stretch and avoid a third consecutive home loss.
After putting up four or more goals just six times over its first 37 games, Philly has done it five times in its past 11, outscoring opponents 15-8 during a season high-tying four game winning streak from Jan. 5-13 before finishing with 10 goals in an ensuing 1-3-1 stretch.
Now the Flyers (22-18-8) have rediscovered their scoring touch with a 4-3 win at Washington on Jan. 27 and a 4-2 home win over Montreal on Tuesday. Though they only have three players with double-digit goals, they’ve received contributions from several sources recently.
Wayne Simmonds had two goals and Jakub Voracek added three assists Tuesday. Voracek (3 goals, 5 assists), Simmonds (four goals, two assists), and Brayden Schenn (three goals, three assists) extended four-game point streaks, while Shayne Gostisbehere’s five-game run is the longest by a Flyers rookie since 2012.
“(The Preds) are good at getting up with the play,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol told the team’s official website. “They’re not high-risk guys, but they’re there all the time providing that added layer of offensive attack. When you add that to a skilled group of forwards, it presents challenges.”
Nashville’s Pekka Rinne has been between the pipes in four of the past five games, going 3-1-0 with a 1.01 goals-against average. He’s expected to try to help the Preds avoid a third straight home loss after posting a 1.95 GAA in winning each of his three there versus Philadelphia.
Rinne turned away 33 shots Nov. 27 but also allowed Gostisbehere’s goal four minutes into overtime of a 3-2 road loss to the Flyers. Nashville, though, is 4-0-1 in the last five home meetings.
The Preds had totaled 12 goals during their season-high winning streak before getting blanked for the sixth time Tuesday. Although they rank in the league’s top third with 30.5 shots per game, they struggled to get pucks on net with a season-low 16 against the Blues.
Center Ryan Johansen hopes Nashville (24-19-8) can regroup and even its record through two games of a stretch with seven of nine at Bridgestone Arena.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to really establish our game here at home, and make it a really tough place for teams to come in and play,” he told the team’s official website.
Mike Fisher has five points over his last 17 games, but he has four goals and nine points in his past eight versus Philadelphia. Filip Forsberg has two goals and two assists in his three career meetings.
The Preds will try to break through against Flyers netminder Steve Mason, who is expected to start despite going 1-4-1 with a 2.95 GAA in his last six starts versus Nashville.