(SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers begin an epic road trip that will carry them into 2015 when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs for Saturday's clash at Air Canada Centre.
Philadelphia kicks off its longest trip of the season tonight, an eight-game swing that will keep the Flyers away from the Wells Fargo Center until they host Ottawa on Jan. 6. By the time the trip ends Jan. 3 in New Jersey, Craig Berube's club will have played 13 road tilts over a 17-game stretch.
The Flyers, who went 2-1-1 on a four-game homestand that wrapped Thursday against Florida, is hoping this trek turns out better than its last road trip. Philadelphia went 1-2-2 on a five-game swing from Nov. 29-Dec. 9 and is just 3-9-3 as the visiting team this season.
Philadelphia has six wins over its last eight games in Toronto, but the Leafs have claimed two of the past three meetings at Air Canada Centre.
Tonight's tilt marks the first of three scheduled encounters between the club in 2014-15. The Leafs took two of three from the Flyers in 2013-14 and have earned four wins in the past six meetings overall.
After winning the first two games of its homestand by a combined 9-2 margin against New Jersey and Carolina, the Flyers lost two straight against Tampa Bay and Florida. The Lightning posted a 3-1 win in the City of Brotherly Love on Tuesday before the Panthers edged the Flyers in Thursday's shootout battle.
Dave Bolland scored in the sixth round of the tiebreaker to lift the Panthers to a 2-1 victory. It was a short shootout compared to the NHL-record 20-round battle Florida had with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.
The Flyers fell to 0-5 in shootouts this season.
Jakub Voracek scored the only goals for the Flyers in both regulation and the shootout. Voracek has 38 points this season, tying him for second in the NHL scoring race with Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin.
Steve Mason stopped 31-of-32 shots for the Flyers through regulation and OT before taking the loss in the shootout.
Ray Emery will start tonight for the Flyers after Mason suffered an upper-body injury at Friday's practice. Mason did not travel with the team to Toronto and also will miss Sunday's game in Winnipeg. General manager Ron Hextall said the status of his No. 1 goaltender will be updated on Monday.
Emery is 5-3-2 with a 3.08 goals against average in his career against the Maple Leafs. Rob Zepp was recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League to serve as Emery's backup. The 33-year-old Zepp has never seen action in an NHL game.
Toronto is hoping to rebound tonight after having a six-game winning streak halted in Thursday's 4-1 loss at Carolina. The Hurricanes had lost six in a row before dealing the Maple Leafs the setback at PNC Arena.
The Leafs were eyeing their longest winning streak in over 11 years, but Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period and never looked back. Toronto still hasn't won seven in a row since an eight-game streak from Nov. 22-Dec. 6, 2003.
Dion Phaneuf scored for the Maple Leafs, who also lost for just the third time in their last 13 games (10-2-1).
Jonathan Bernier gave up three goals on 36 shots and had a personal four-game winning streak stopped.
"We got outworked," said Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. "Then we finally got ourselves back into the hockey game and took ourselves right out of it."
Toronto returns home for just one night before beginning a seven-game road trip of its own with Sunday's test in Chicago. The Leafs are 14-7-0 as the host this season compared to a 5-3-3 mark on the road.