Flyers vs. Devils Preview

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NEWARK, NJ (AP) - The Philadelphia Flyers are the highest-scoring team in the East, yet their recently inconsistent offense is threatening their hold on first in the conference.

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The New Jersey Devils, meanwhile, are coping with the likelihood of missing the playoffs for the first time in 15 years.

The Flyers look for their fourth consecutive road victory Friday night when they visit the Devils, who hope to even the season series.

According to NHL odds and oddsmakers from online sports book Bodog.com have made the Devils -115 money line favorites for Friday's game against the Flyers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 55% of more than 190 bets for this game have been placed on the Flyers -105.

Philadelphia (46-21-10) dropped its fifth straight home game Thursday, 1-0 to Atlanta. The Flyers have lost three of five overall, scoring one goal or less in each defeat. They had nine combined goals in victories against the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh during that stretch.

``Now's the time of the year where you're going to score those goals in front of the net on second and third opportunities,'' captain Mike Richards said. ``We just have to be a little bit more hungry for those opportunities.''

Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves, but the rookie lost in regulation for the first time since March 5.

The loss dropped Philadelphia to 5-2-4 since defenseman Chris Pronger broke his right hand March 8, keeping him out for the rest of the regular season.

``We're not going to be real aggressive (rushing Pronger into the lineup) at this point,'' general manager Paul Holmgren said. ``Obviously, the playoffs are more important right now.''

Thursday's loss combined with Washington's overtime victory against Columbus trimmed Philadelphia's conference lead to one point over the Capitals.

The Flyers hope to get a boost from playing on the road, where they're 5-0-1 in their last six and 25-9-4 this season. Philadelphia won the last meeting in New Jersey, 4-2 on Jan. 6 on two goals each from Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell.

The Devils can even the season series at three games apiece, though it seems their bid to make the playoffs will fall short.

New Jersey (35-36-5) ended a three-game losing streak Wednesday with a 3-2 victory against the Islanders as Martin Brodeur won for only the second time in his last five starts.

The Devils haven't missed the playoffs since 1995-96 - the season after winning the first of the franchise's three Stanley Cups. New Jersey's 10-29-2 start became too much to overcome, even after a 23-3-2 tear from Jan. 9-March 15.

``We try hard as a group to stay in that mood,'' Brodeur said. ``It is hard. I have never been in this position where you have to kill six or seven games before the season ends.

``We need to get out and have a good effort every night. We're all professionals. We want to have success even though the playoffs are out of reach.''

Johan Hedberg has started all five meetings against Philadelphia this season, going 2-3-0 with a 2.80 goals-against average. He's been opposed four times by Brian Boucher, who is 2-1-1 with a 1.48 GAA in those starts.

Patrik Elias scored twice Jan. 22 in the most recent meeting against Philadelphia - a 3-1 Devils victory.

The Flyers have won nine of the last 12 meetings in the series.

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