NHL

Flyers host Maple Leafs in key Eastern Conference game

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs meet Thursday night and could be a little weary-legged after skating to shutout victories in New York and Detroit, respectively, on the road Wednesday.

Both teams are fighting for playoff spots in the crowded Eastern Conference standings and face interesting goaltending decisions after stellar performances from their No. 1 netminders.

Steve Mason turned aside 34 shots, including five apiece from Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, to earn his first shutout of the season in the 2-0 Flyers' win over the Rangers in Madison Square Garden.

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Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek scored goals in the third period to give the Flyers their second straight victory. It's the first time the Flyers won back-to-back games since Dec. 11 and 14, when they enjoyed a 10-game win streak.

"I think it was probably Mase's best game of the season," Flyers captain Claude Giroux told reporters Wednesday night.

Despite the heavy workload, Mason likely will return to the nets Thursday night against the Maple Leafs since it's the Flyers' final game before the All-Star break.

The same cannot be said for Frederik Anderson, who is expected to get a breather after recording back-to-back shutouts. Maple Leafs backup Curtis McElhinney (3-1-2) will likely get the call against the Flyers, making his first start since Jan. 14 when he allowed two goals in a victory over Ottawa.

Anderson saw only 22 shots in Wednesday night's 4-0 victory over the Red Wings. Auston Matthews, Roman Polak, James van Riemsdyk and Nikita Soshnikov scored goals for the Leafs, who are 5-1-1 in their last seven games to move into playoff position.

The Leafs are also 9-0-2 in their last 11 road games.

"We're skating a lot and it just wears out the other team," Polak said.

The Leafs are expected to be without defenseman Morgan Rielly (ankle) for the fifth straight game. The Flyers, who will be playing their 13th of 18 sets of back-to-back games, are expected to be without defenseman Michael Del Zotto (bruised leg). Defenseman Nick Schultz and forward Dale Weise were both healthy scratches for the Flyers on Wednesday.

Voracek said the Flyers would love to go into the All-Star break with a three-game win streak.

"It would be great," Voracek said. "Toronto is very hot. It's a good team with a lot of talent up front and we've got to make sure we are ready for that because it's going to be another tough game."

If Mason plays, he'll be looking to win three in a row for the first time since the club's 10-game win streak, when he won eight straight.

"He was good again (Wednesday)," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "I don't know that he ever lost his footing. There are ups and downs for every player in this game but for sure he did a great job for us."