(AP) – With their first win in the books and a familiar face possibly ready to add some reinforcement, the Philadelphia Flyers will look to continue their success at Florida.
In the process, they’ll also try to avoid opening the year with three straight regulation road losses for the first time since the 1968-69 season – the storied franchise’s second in the NHL.
Veteran forward Mike Knuble could begin his second stint in Philadelphia on Saturday night when the Flyers try for a fifth consecutive road win over the Panthers, losers of three straight.
Philadelphia (1-3-0) avoided its worst start by beating the New York Rangers 3-1 on Thursday.
“I think everybody wanted to win and nobody wanted to be in the position that we were in,” coach Peter Laviolette told the team’s official website. “The only way we were going to get out of it was to go to work to fix things and chip away at it.”
The Flyers have struggled while being hit with injuries to two key players. Emotional leader Scott Hartnell is expected to miss four to eight weeks with a broken foot and it’s uncertain when center Danny Briere will make his season debut after a wrist injury.
Looking for help, Philadelphia signed Knuble this week after he was released by Detroit last Friday. The 40-year-old winger scored 114 goals for the Flyers from 2005-09 before playing the last three seasons in Washington.
He could be in the lineup Saturday.
“Obviously we’re familiar with Mike,” general manager Paul Holmgren said. “He’s a good guy, big, heavy player and we think he’s a good guy to throw in the mix right now with the injuries we have.”
Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek scored and the Flyers killed off back-to-back penalties in the third period to hold off the Rangers.
“We can build a lot from (Thursday’s) game,” forward Max Talbot told the NHL’s official website. “I think we played solid for most of the game and we can take this with us and keep building.”
Philadelphia may gain additional confidence from a game at Florida, where it’s taken four in a row – the last three by 3-2 scores.
Forward Brayden Schenn, who has two goals in three career games against the Panthers, is expected back after serving a one-game suspension for charging New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov on Tuesday.
Florida (1-3-0) has been outscored 11-1 while losing three in a row. Tomas Fleischmann opened the scoring with a first-period power-play goal Thursday but the Panthers went on to lose 3-1 at home to Ottawa.
“I think we have to be in desperation mode right now,” defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “We need a win and we need one badly.”
The Panthers have allowed their last three opponents to go 4 for 13 on the power play.
“We really have to bear down and give our goalie some support,” coach Kevin Dineen said.
Fleischmann had half of Florida’s four goals in the two home losses to the Flyers last season.
Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov faced 19 shots Thursday after seeing an average of 30.7 while yielding nine goals in the first three games. He’s 4-1-1 with a 1.47 goals-against average versus Florida.
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