Struggling Flyers return home to battle Devils

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Philadelphia Flyers hope to find a cure to their recent struggles when they open a four-game homestand with Thursday's clash against the rival New Jersey Devils.

The Flyers are mired in a 2-8-3 slump and have fallen to 13th place in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia only won one game on its recent five-game road trip, but the club at least ended the swing on a modest point streak, going 1-0-2 over the final three tests.

Philadelphia halted a six-game slide with Saturday's win in Los Angeles before falling in overtime Tuesday at Columbus. Kevin Connauton ended the contest less than two minutes into the extra session, breaking in alone and lifting a wrister under the crossbar off a feed from Ryan Johansen.

Before the contest ended at 1:58 of OT, however, the Flyers received a controversial game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation.

With 55.3 seconds to go, a deflection from Brayden Schenn of a point shot slipped through Columbus netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. Although referee Dave Jackson emphatically shook his head and raised his arms to stop play, televised replays revealed the puck was clearly over the line.

Further review quickly confirmed the marker and the game headed to overtime.

Schenn posted both scores for the Flyers, who ended their trip at 1-2-2. Steve Mason halted 21 pucks in defeat.

"We're a better team that this," Flyers forward Claude Giroux said. "We let a point get away."

Philadelphia fell to 3-9-3 as the road team, but the Flyers hope to turn things around during its four-game stay at Wells Fargo Center. Philly also will host Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida during the residency before heading out on an eight-game road trip.

The Devils have won two of their last four games, but those victories stand as the club's lone wins over a 2-4-3 stretch.

New Jersey has lost in the shootout three times during the nine-game span and fell to 1-4 in shootouts this season following Tuesday's 3-2 setback against visiting Chicago. The Devils ended an NHL-record string of 18 straight shootout loss earlier this season against Winnipeg, but have lost three in a row in the shootout since that home victory on Oct. 30.

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both scored in the shootout to send the Blackhawks to the win. Toews, Chicago's first shooter, raced up the slot, dragged the puck to his backhand and slid the puck past the pad of Keith Kinkaid for the first marker. After New Jersey's Jaromir Jagr was stopped, Kane stick handled his way up the slot and wristed the deciding tally past Kinkaid for the win.

Jordin Tootoo and Stephen Gionta both scored for the Devils, who were coming off a 2-1 win over Carolina on Monday.

Kinkaid was tremendous in his first NHL start, turning aside 37 shots in regulation and the overtime session.

"I just wanted to give the team a chance to win and prove my worth," said Kinkaid. "I'm just relieved to get that first start and hopefully there's a few more."

Kinkaid is 0-1-1 over four career games. No. 1 goaltender Cory Schneider is expected to start tonight for the 28th time in 30 games this season. Schneider is 1-1-0 with a 3.04 goals against average in his career against Philadelphia.

Ray Emery will get the start tonight for Philly and is 7-4-2 with a 1.91 GAA in 13 career games against New Jersey.

New Jersey is beginning a three-game road trip tonight and will try to kick off the swing with its fifth straight win in Philadelphia. The Devils have claimed seven of the last nine encounters at Wells Fargo Center and notched a 6-4 win in Philly on Oct. 9. That October win was Jersey's third in the last four meetings overall.

Mike Cammalleri has missed New Jersey's last two games with an upper-body injury and is questionable for tonight, as is fellow forward Dainius Zubrus, who sat out Tuesday with a cut on his left leg.

In addition to those injuries, The Bergen Record reported Wednesday that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello confirmed mumps diagnosis for two players: forward Travis Zajac and defenseman Adam Larsson. Zajac has apparently recovered enough to begin skating again, but Larsson remains isolated, according to the paper.

New Jersey is the latest team to be affected by a case of the mumps. Members of the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues were stricken with the illness earlier in the season.