March has been a kind month to the Flyers, but their luck has turned a bit as of late.
Philadelphia will continue its push for the fourth seed in the conference tonight without its starting goaltender and one of its top defenders in a matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who saw their playoff drought extended to seven straight seasons last time out.
The Flyers are currently sitting fifth overall in the East with 96 points, four behind the Penguins for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Both clubs have six games left in the regular season and Pittsburgh is wrapping a home-and-home series with the New York Islanders tonight.
Philadelphia hits the road following a 3-2-0 homestand, but does so without goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Bryzgalov suffered a chip fracture in his right foot after getting hit by a shot in an exposed area during Monday's warmups before a meeting with Tampa Bay.
Timonen, meanwhile, is remaining in Philadelphia to rest an upper-body injury. He missed five games earlier this month with a lower-body ailment.
Philadelphia will certainly miss the two, especially Bryzgalov. The Russian netminder is 10-2-1 with a 1.43 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in 13 games this month, logging four shutouts while setting a club-record scoreless streak of 249 minutes, 43 seconds.
"Ilya wasn't going to play on Thursday anyway," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said on Tuesday. "We're going to just leave him back and continue to get him treatment. We don't think this is a serious injury."
Sergei Bobrovsky, who has played just once since Feb. 18, will get the start in net tonight, while Jason Bacashihua and Marc-Andre Bourdon were recalled from the minors to replace Bryzgalov and Timonen, respectively, on the roster.
Bryzgalov was touched for four goals on just 14 shots faced in Monday's 5-3 loss to the Lightning, while Timonen logged the 400th assist of his NHL career. Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read and Scott Hartnell all had goals for the Flyers, who lost for only the third time in regulation this month.
"It's just a couple bounces that didn't go our way," said Read. "We just didn't bear down at the right times and it kind of cost us. Hopefully we can learn from this and move forward."
Philadelphia will now play one of its final three road games this season and is 23-12-3 as the guest this season, including 3-1-1 in its past five. The Flyers will look to hand the Maple Leafs an 11th straight loss in Toronto this evening.
The Maple Leafs haven't won at home since Feb. 6 and have dropped the first two contests of a four-game homestand. They opened the residency with a shootout loss to the Rangers on Saturday, then suffered a 3-0 setback to the Hurricanes on Tuesday.
Jonas Gustavsson yielded three goals on 12 shots before being replaced by Jussi Rynnas, who was recalled on an emergency basis due to an upper-body injury to James Reimer. Rynnas made 10 saves in his NHL debut, but Toronto lost for the seventh time in 10 games.
"I was disappointed with the way we turned the puck over in the neutral zone in the first period," Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said. "Consequently, we let the opposition dictate the transition game against us."
The loss officially eliminated the Maple Leafs from the playoff chase, extending their club-record playoff drought to seven straight seasons.
Facing the Flyers hasn't helped the Maple Leafs this season. Philadelphia has won four straight and 10 of its past 12 versus Toronto, taking the first two encounters this season at home before a 1-0 shootout win at the Air Canada Centre on March 10.
Bryzgalov stopped all 29 shots faced through overtime to give the Flyers their fourth straight triumph in Toronto.