Published January 08, 2015
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers hope to enter the Christmas break on a positive note when they aim for a third straight win in Tuesday's road battle against the Minnesota Wild.
The Flyers have gained a point in eight of their last nine games, posting a 5-1-3 record during that stretch. Philadelphia also has kicked off a season- long eight-game road trip with two straight wins despite entering the swing with a 3-9-3 away record. The Flyers haven't won three in a row since Nov. 4-8.
Philadelphia ambushed the Toronto Maple Leafs to begin the trek on Saturday, posting a 7-4 win at Air Canada Centre. The Flyers were able to save some offense for Sunday's game in Winnipeg, as they rallied for a 4-3 overtime victory against the Jets.
The Flyers trailed 3-1 heading into the third period on Sunday, but finished the contest with three unanswered goals. Vincent Lecavalier notched two goals in the third period, tying the contest at 3-3 with 3:14 left in regulation before Jakub Voracek won the game just 10 seconds into overtime.
Just seconds after the opening faceoff of OT, Claude Giroux pressured Dustin Byfuglien on the forecheck and Voracek was there to take the loose puck and emerge from behind the net to beat Ondrej Pavelec with a quick wrister.
It was the second goal of the night for Voracek, who is leading the NHL with 44 points on 14 goals and 30 assists. The 25-year-old Czech has three goals and four assists over the last three games and on Monday was named the NHL's Second Star for the week ending Dec. 21.
The Flyers' comeback made a winner of Rob Zepp, who at 33 years of age became the oldest NHL netminder to win his first career start since 41-year-old Hugh Lehman in 1926. Zepp stopped 25-of-28 shots in his NHL debut.
"I thought in the third we really dug in and started to compete," Flyers head coach Craig Berube said. "I thought (Zepp) really handled himself well."
With No. 1 netminder Steve Mason out with a back injury, either Ray Emery or Zepp could start tonight for the Flyers. Emery is 4-2-1 with a 2.39 goals against average in seven career games against the Wild.
While the Flyers hope to match their longest winning streak of the season tonight, Minnesota is aiming to avoid equaling its longest skid of 2014-15. The Wild lost four straight in regulation from Nov. 4-11, but they have earned points twice on their current 0-1-2 slide.
Mike Yeo's club has dropped two straight in overtime and the Wild had to rally for Saturday's 6-5 home loss against Nashville.
Minnesota trailed 5-3 after Roman Josi scored on the man advantage for Nashville at 9:05 of the third period, but Zach Parise answered just 1:41 later with a power-play tally of his own. The score stayed at 5-4 until Thomas Vanek tallied with the goalie pulled in favor of the extra attacker with 47.8 seconds left.
However, Mattias Ekholm scored the game-winning goal for Nashville at 1:45 of OT, beating Niklas Backstrom with a wrister from the right circle.
The point gained was little consolation for Yeo, who was disappointed in his club's defensive effort.
"It's clearly not good enough," Yeo said. "You score five goals it should be automatic."
Parise finished with two goals and an assist for the Wild, who were outshot 44-27 in the game. Vanek and Marco Scandella each tallied a goal and a helper and Jason Zucker also scored for the Wild.
Backstrom gave up three goals on 30 shots in relief of Darcy Kuemper, who stopped 11-of-14 shots during the first period.
Minnesota fell to 9-3-3 as the home team on Saturday and is playing the third part of a four-game homestand tonight. The Wild will complete the residency Saturday when it opens a home-and-home set against Winnipeg.
The Wild earned a 3-2 regulation win in Philadelphia on Nov. 20 and Tuesday's test will complete the season series. Minnesota has taken two of three from the Flyers overall and owns a 3-2-0 mark with a tie in the six all-time encounters in St. Paul.