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Flyers vs. Senators preview, lineups: Downie returns as road trip begins

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Steve Downie will return to the lineup as the Flyers kick off a three-game road trip.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers are back in action tonight in the suburbs of Ottawa as they take on the Senators. It's the first of three road games over the next four days, and the Sens enter tonight's game on a three-game win streak and undefeated in the month of November, so it's not going to be easy going off the start.

Philadelphia Flyers (5-10-1, 11 pts) at Ottawa Senators (7-6-4, 18 pts)
7:30 p.m. | Canadian Tire Centre | Kanata, Ontario, Canada
Local TV: CSN Philly, Sportsnet East, TVA | Radio: 97.5 FM
Get the Ottawa perspective at Silver Seven

Steve Downie will return to the lineup for the Flyers, likely with a big ole bubble covering his still-bruised face. We expect a similar lineup to what we saw in Saturday's win against Edmonton, with Downie replacing Michael Raffl, who has the flu, on the third line. Steve Mason will get the start in goal.

The key for the Flyers tonight is really just to show progress. Claude Giroux is finally off the schnide, and hopefully that keeps going now that he has that first goal. How much of Saturday's success overall was the result of hard work by the Flyers and how much was the result of an awful opponent? We might get some answers to that question tonight, but let's hope that it was the first signal that they're breaking out of their early-season slump.

There's a bit of a goaltending controversy going on in Ottawa these days, with Robin Lehner earning a nod as the NHL's top star of last week. Craig Anderson had a mediocre start to his season and then fell with injury woes, giving Lehner the opportunity to really dominate with a few 40+ save performances. Anderson will be in goal tonight for the Sens, so hopefully that's a break for the Flyers.

Bobby Ryan -- HES FROM CHERRY HILL GUYS DID YOU KNOW THAT -- leads the Senators in scoring with nine goals and 10 assists in 17 games. Erik Karlsson and Kyle Turris are close behind with 18 points on the season. By comparison, Vincent Lecavalier, Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux are tied for the Flyers scoring lead, each with just eight points to date.

The Senators are sixth in the league in goals per game and 19th in the league in goals against per game. Their power play is converting at 17 percent, good for 20th in the NHL, and their penalty kill is successful 86.1 percent of the time, good for fifth in the league and just ahead of the Flyers 85.3 percent success rate. Ottawa's also been shorthanded a total of 79 times this season (11 more than the Flyers), which is worst in the league. Their PK gets a lot of practice.

Our game thread will be up around 6:30 p.m. The game is a 7:30 start, so plan accordingly. Go Flyers.

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