The surging Philadelphia Flyers will be looking for their season-high eighth straight victory when they host the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.
The Flyers picked up their seventh consecutive win, 5-2, on the road against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. As a result, the Flyers will enter Thursday's matchup against the Hurricanes just one point behind Washington for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Philadelphia has been virtually unbeatable at home this season, going 23-5-4.
But the news wasn't all rosy as left wing James van Riemsdyk suffered a fractured right hand in the first period against the Capitals. The puck struck van Riemsdyk's hand after a shot from Washington's Jonas Siegenthaler.
"I'm not sure the severity of it," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said of van Riemsdyk, who has 19 goals and 21 assists this season. "There are different breaks, but he took that shot right on the tip there. I'll find out (Thursday) for how long."
The Flyers have worked their way through a litany of injuries to key players all season and they're treating this one the same way.
"We have guys in the minors that have played a lot of games this year that have contributed and I'm expecting the same thing," center Kevin Hayes said.
Backup goaltender Brian Elliott earned the win with 25 saves against the Capitals, but second-year standout Carter Hart is likely to start against Carolina.
The Hurricanes will be hoping to avoid a fourth consecutive loss when they visit Philadelphia.
Last Saturday, the Hurricanes dropped their third in a row in a 4-3 overtime loss on the road to the Montreal Canadiens. Haydn Fleury, Joel Edmundson and Justin Williams each scored goals for Carolina, which rallied after a three-goal deficit to force overtime.
"We can't chase games," said Williams, a former Flyer. "Chase and chase and chase. It's exhausting. Our urgency from the start of the game just has to be better. It's just a mental thing. Sometimes maybe you have to trick your mind to think you're down a goal to start the game."
The Hurricanes remain in playoff contention despite their goaltending issues.
Petr Mrazek (concussion) and James Reimer (lower body) have been out. Anton Forsberg gave up three goals on 20 shots against Montreal before being lifted in the second period for Alex Nedeljkovic.
The result was another difficult loss.
"I still have a lot of confidence in these guys," Carolina head coach Rod Brind'Amour said.
With the season winding down and the Hurricanes facing a daunting challenge against the Flyers, points are crucial.
"Obviously we're trying everything we can to get points," Carolina forward Jordan Martinook told the Raleigh News & Observer. "It's one play that kind of defines it, and it's where we're at. This time of the year, everything is magnified, every little play is just so important. ... Moving forward there's no time to 'Woe is us, woe is me.' We've got to go. Teams are winning around us and we need to get back to that.
"Obviously we're on the outside looking in, so we need to get going and get some points."
--Field Level Media
Flyers go for 8th straight win as Hurricanes visit