Flyers, 'Canes to put wrap on disappointing seasons

The Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes had higher expectations this season. But instead of finding their way back into the playoffs, both teams finish the 2016-17 regular season with a meaningless regular season game Sunday night.

The Flyers have gone 5-1-1 in their past seven games but were knocked out of playoff contention with three games remaining in the regular season. It will be their third time in five years watching the playoffs from home.

The Hurricanes went on a 9-0-4 run to climb back into the playoff hunt, but have lost five straight games and will miss the playoffs for the eighth straight season.

While the Flyers beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Saturday afternoon, the Hurricanes dropped a 5-4 shootout to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night. Cam Ward took the loss against the Blues, so look for Eddie Lack to play the season finale for the Hurricanes (35-31-15) in Philadelphia.

Jeff Skinner netted his 36th and 37th goals of the season for the Hurricanes in their loss to the Blues, while Klas Dahlbeck and Joakim Nordstrom also scored in the Hurricanes' final home game of the season.

For the Flyers, Anthony Stolarz is expected to get the start in the season finale. Steve Mason played in what might have been his final game with the Flyers on Saturday afternoon.

The Flyers could become the third team in NHL history to earn 56 points at home and miss the playoffs. The 2004-05 Canucks and 2014-15 Kings are the only other NHL teams to do the same.

"It is disappointing not making the playoffs, but the boys are playing hard and we are battling for each other and playing for the love of our fans," Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov said. "I think the boys have been battling all year, playing hard. It is just part of the game. Sometimes you get in a slump and can't score. I think right now everybody is clicking. All the chances are going in."

Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell, 31, who won three Stanley Cups with the Chicago Blackhawks, will play his final game in the NHL on Sunday. Bickell was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in November and returned to the Canes' lineup on Wednesday night. He announced after Saturday night's game that Sunday would be his final NHL game.

"I've made the decision with my family that I'm going to call it quits, so it's just these last two games," Bickell told on Saturday.

"As the weeks go on in the month, it's like running low on gas. You just kind of fade off. Some symptoms come, but when you get treatment, you feel energized and full of life. Hopefully it will bring a spark."

Flyers rookie Mike Vecchione, signed as a free agent out of Union College last week, is expected to return to the lineup after sitting out Saturday's game as a healthy scratch.
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