Flyers visit Ducks to begin California swing

11:47 AM, Jan 30, 2014   |    comments
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( - A blowout victory may have been what the Philadelphia Flyers needed ahead of a very tough road trip.

The Flyers head out west for three straight games, beginning with Thursday night's contest against the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks.

Mired in a four-game losing streak and with losses in seven of their previous nine, the Flyers blanked the injury-rattled Detroit Red Wings 5-0 on Tuesday. Steve Mason made 33 saves for his second shutout of the season and both Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux had three-point nights.

Hartnell scored twice with an assist, while Giroux scored once and also helped to set up another two goals. Sean Couturier and Adam Hall lit the lamp as well in Philadelphia's eighth victory in a row at home over Detroit.

"I think we cleaned a lot of those mistakes and took them out of our game," said Mason, who recorded his 21st career shutout. "There are still some little mistakes but it's a lot better, and we can build on that."

The victory put the Flyers a point ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes for third place in the Metropolitan Division prior to this trek through Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.

Philadelphia is expected to have defenseman Kimmo Timonen in the lineup despite him having left Tuesday's game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Winger Zac Rinaldo could also return to the lineup for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain on Jan. 8.

Rinaldo, expected to miss six weeks with the ailment, was a full participant in practice on Wednesday and the Flyers opened up a roster spot by placing forward Chris VandeVelde on waivers Wednesday.

Though the Ducks lead the NHL with 83 points, four ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks, the Flyers may be catching them at a good time as Anaheim has split its past six games. The club is coming off just its second regulation loss at home on the season, but both have come in the last three contests at Honda Center.

The Ducks fell to 21-2-2 at home with Tuesday's 4-2 setback to the Minnesota Wild. Dustin Penner and Mathieu Perreault scored and Jonas Hiller gave up all four goals on 33 shots.

"I don't know what you call it but it wasn't very good," said Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau. "You can't call it a letdown because Minnesota is a good team, so I don't know what it was tonight."

The Ducks were playing for the first time since shutting out the Kings 3-0 on Saturday at Dodger Stadium and dropped the opener of a five-game homestand.

The Ducks have won four of their last five versus the Flyers, including a 3-2 win at Philadelphia on Oct. 29.

Hiller made 26 saves to improve to 3-1-1 in his career versus the Flyers with a 2.54 goals against average. Kyle Palmieri had a pair of goals in the win.

Mason made 34 saves, falling to 5-6-0 in his career against the Ducks with a 3.27 GAA.

Philadelphia has won three of its last four in Anaheim.

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