Tough road test for Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers failed to begin their longest road trip of the season on a positive note.

The Atlantic Division leaders look to rebound Thursday when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that has yet to lose at home.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Tampa Bay -123 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 6 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 69% of bets for this game have been placed on Philadelphia +113 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Philadelphia (6-2-0) had its five-game winning streak snapped after a 4-3 loss at Florida on Wednesday in the opener of an eight-game road swing featuring all Eastern Conference opponents.

The Flyers, who went 12-24-5 on the road last season, fell to 2-2 away from home in 2007-08. They will be in for a challenge against the Lightning (4-3-0), who lost 5-3 at Washington on Wednesday to slip to 0-3 on the road, but look to start 5-0 at home for the first time since 2002-03.

"We have to find a way to conquer those challenges that we'll be facing," Philadelphia coach John Stevens told the team's official Web site.

Joffrey Lupul had a goal and an assist, while Jeff Carter and Lasse Kukkonen added goals Wednesday for the Flyers, who had allowed just five goals during their winning streak.

"We got beat to some loose pucks in front of our net and we just allowed them too much time with the puck in our end,'' Stevens said. "We haven't been doing that to this point.''

Mike Richards added an assist Wednesday, giving him five points in his last four games.

Backup goaltender Antero Niittymaki is expected to make his first start of the season for the Flyers on Thursday. Martin Biron had started the first eight games.

Niittymaki is coming off a tough 2006-07 season when he went 9-29-9 with a 3.38 goals-against average and lost his last six starts. He is 0-3-0 with a 4.37 GAA against the Lightning in his career.

The Flyers went 1-2-1 versus Tampa Bay last season, with the only win coming at the St. Pete Times Forum, 4-3 on Dec. 28.

Tampa Bay has won 11 of the last 12 meetings between the two clubs.

After starting 3-0, the Lightning have lost three of four, but should have some confidence heading home.

Paul Ranger and Jason Ward each had a goal and an assist on Wednesday for Tampa Bay, which also received a goal from Martin St. Louis and two assists from Brad Richards.

Richards has five assists in his last four contests and six in his last six games versus Philadelphia. St. Louis, meanwhile, looks for a goal in his third straight game and fourth consecutive against the Flyers.

Johan Holmqvist could be back in net Thursday for Tampa Bay after sitting while Marc Denis made his first start of the season Wednesday. Holmqvist was 2-1-0 with a 2.93 GAA in his only three career starts against Philadelphia last season.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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