Veteran Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said the first home game is the hardest one to win following a long road trip.
That was certainly the case for the Flyers last time out and they look to rebound on Saturday in a matinee against a Winnipeg Jets club that has already picked up a pair of wins on a road trip of its own.
The good news for Philadelphia is that forward Scott Hartnell will be in the lineup on Saturday for the first time since breaking his left foot in a game against New Jersey on Jan. 22. Hartnell, who had a career-best 37 goals in 2011-12, missed the last 16 games with the injury.
The Flyers wrapped a six-game swing on Wednesday with a hard-fought, physical 6-5 win over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. That gave them a split of their trip and put the team in position to win three straight for the first time all season.
Kicking off a five-game homestand the following night against the Florida Panthers, Philadelphia instead fell behind by three goals by the time the game was just over 10 minutes old en route to a disappointing 5-2 setback.
"I don't usually make up excuses. I'm usually straightforward, but you saw a tired Flyers team today," said Timonen. "Coming back from a six-game road trip, we played a hard-charged game yesterday and got the two points, got home at two o'clock (a.m.). We were tired today.
"Coming back home, you don't want to lose any games, but I've seen this happen a million times in my life. Coming back from a road trip, the hardest game is the next home game."
It was a tough one for goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who yielded four goals on 15 shots before being pulled in the second period. Brian Boucher turned aside 10- of-11 shots in relief.
Luke Schenn and Jakub Voracek scored for the Flyers, who learned before the game that forward Matt Read would miss six weeks of action due to a torn rib cage muscle suffered versus the Penguins. He has seven goals and 13 points this season.
Voracek, who matched Read for the team lead in goals, has nine points over his last four games, including his first career hat trick in the win over the Penguins. He had two assists in a 3-2 victory at Winnipeg on Feb. 12, Philadelphia's second straight in the series since losing 10 of 11.
The Jets, who have won six straight in Philadelphia, got both of their goals from Andrew Ladd in the loss and the veteran added a goal and two assists in Thursday's 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Blake Wheeler capped his two-goal game by putting home the game-winner with just under five minutes to play, capping a back-and-forth frame that saw Winnipeg fail to hold a pair of one-goal leads.
However, the Jets pulled to within two points of the Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Southeast Division by winning the first two contests of a five-game swing on the heels of a winless three-game homestand.
"It wasn't the prettiest game we're going to win but it doesn't matter," Wheeler said. "It's two points in the standings against a division rival."
Evander Kane also scored and Ondrej Pavelec had 27 saves in the triumph.
Winnipeg was playing without defenseman Zach Redmond, who earlier in the day had his leg seriously cut by a teammate's skate during morning practice. He sustained a laceration to his right femoral artery and vein and was taken to an area hospital, where he underwent surgery for three hours to repair the wound.
Redmond will be sidelined for an indefinite period of time.