Published March 28, 2016
Splitting a four-game road trip seemed to be only one of the Philadelphia Flyers' worries when Claude Giroux exited the finale.
The injury scare to Giroux is over, and the captain will try to help the Flyers create some breathing room in the playoff race Monday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
Philadelphia (36-25-13) is tied with Detroit for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Flyers have one game in hand on the Red Wings.
Philadelphia concluded a 2-1-1 trip with Saturday's 2-1 loss at Arizona, but the team seemed to be dealt a major blow when Giroux left with an apparent head injury late in the third period.
He's reportedly fine, and the Flyers' top scorer with 62 points will be available after his three-game goal streak ended against the Coyotes.
"We've battled hard this entire road trip," coach Dave Hakstol told the team's official website. "We battled pretty hard but came up on the short end.
"We go home off this trip in control of our own destiny."
The Flyers are opening a three-game homestand, where they're 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. After facing Winnipeg, Philadelphia faces league-leading Washington on Wednesday in what might be a first-round playoff preview.
Giroux has 10 points over his last eight home games, and he's got 13 in the past 12 overall against Winnipeg. He had two assists in a 3-0 road win over the Jets on Nov. 7 as Philadelphia improved to 7-1-1 over the last nine matchups.
Wayne Simmonds has nine points over that stretch, including two goals and one assist over the last two meetings. He found the net against Winnipeg earlier this season, snapping a seven-game drought.
Simmonds enters this matchup without a goal in six straight games.
The Jets (31-38-6) have lost seven of their last nine on the road after blowing a two-goal, first-period lead to fall 3-2 at Buffalo on Saturday to be officially eliminated from playoff contention.
"This group," right wing Drew Stafford told the team's official website, "we might be young, but we've got to learn how to play with a lead and learn how to protect it.
"It's a matter of skating. We weren't doing that well enough, and were extending our shifts a little too much. That's a recipe for disaster."
Mark Scheifele continues to be a bright spot. The center's team-leading 24 goals are a career high and his assist against the Sabres gave him a personal-best 50 points.
Scheifele has four points in three games and 23 in the last 19. He didn't get a point against the Flyers in November after getting one in each of the previous three matchups.
Blake Wheeler doesn't have a point in five straight games against Philadelphia after totaling 17 over the previous 14. He has five points over the past four games, and his 67 overall are two shy of his career high set in 2013-14.