Flyers visit Hurricanes vying for fourth straight win

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes have been going in opposite directions recently, but they come together for Tuesday night's game at PNC Arena in their first outing since the NHL All-Star break.

The importance of the matchup is clear to both teams as they jockey to be in playoff position in the Eastern Conference.

"We're going to take it day by day," Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason said. "You can't look at the standings (because) those are going to change every day."

After a brutal stretch earlier in the month, the Flyers recovered to win their past three games. They scored two goals in regulation in each of those.

Carolina had the opposite trend. After a surge in early January, the Hurricanes lost five games in a row going into the break.

So now it's time to get back on track, forward Jeff Skinner said.

"It's a huge game for us," Skinner said. "We're going to try to close some ground on teams ahead of us."

The Hurricanes returned to Monday's practice with an upbeat approach.

"It's nice to kind of hit the reset button and let the body recover," Skinner said.

"Guys had a little more jump, so it was good," coach Bill Peters said, noting that playing another team contending for a playoff spot is ideal.

"It goes a long way if you can beat a team in regulation that's ahead of you in the standings," Peters said. "We need to get off to a good start here."

The Flyers had an excitement level as well as they returned to practice. Plus, they could relish in the fact that right winger Wayne Simmonds is coming off a Most Valuable Player performance in Sunday's NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

"Mentally guys are fresh," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "Physically, you're always a little bit rusty coming off the break."

Even following a strong stretch, Hakstol said the Flyers must keep their attention on the short term.

"One step at a time," he said. "We're not looking at 32 games. We're looking at much shorter segments than that and that's what we'll focus on. ... We hold our destiny in our own hands and that's exactly where we want it."

Center Brayden Schenn said it's important for the Flyers to concentrate on solid play in 5-on-5 situations and being good defensively. They're aware that the Hurricanes have been particularly good on home ice.

"We're going to have a tough test against a team that has played extremely well at home," Mason said.

On Tuesday, center Jordan Staal will play in his 300th game with the Hurricanes.

Also for the Hurricanes, goalie Eddie Lack is back after a two-game conditioning stint with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. Concussions have sidelined him for most of the past 30 Carolina games.

"I'm back and ready to go again," Lack said.

While Cam Ward has been the anchor in the Carolina net, Peters said Lack's availability is a good sign.

"The feedback from his two games down there was very positive," Peters said.
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