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Flyers vs. Lightning preview: Kimmo Timonen's 1,000th game a big one for Flyers

It's Kimmo Timonen's 1,000th game, and the Flyers need two more points before they take a full five days off from game action.

USA TODAY Sports

Another day, another crucial game for the Philadelphia Flyers as they look to string some wins together and jump back into the playoff race. But tonight's game against the Lightning takes on even further symbolism as after it, the Flyers will take five full days off before taking on the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Sunday.

Flyers_orange_mediumLightning_black_medium
Philadelphia Flyers (13-15-1, 27) at Tampa Bay Lightning (12-15-1, 25)
7:30 p.m. | Tampa Bay Times Forum | St. Petersburg, Fla.
TV: CSN Philly, NBCSN, TSN | Radio: 93.3 WMMR
Get the Tampa Bay perspective at Raw Charge

We've sat here all year and stared sadly at the standings outlook. Not only have the Flyers been on the outside looking in for nearly the entire season thus far, they've also played more games than every other team in the Eastern Conference, making any sort of playoff chase even more difficult. Take a peek at the standings and you can easily see that things are leveling off already, but after the five-day hiatus between games this week, the playing field will be even more square.

So tonight's game can be seen as a bit of a turning point, then. The Flyers can't control where their Eastern Conference opposition stands after they've caught them in games played, but it does illustrate how important the two points are against the Lightning tonight. They need every single point they can get, and that only happens by stringing several wins together in a row. Beating a team that you're directly ahead of in the standings certainly doesn't hurt either.

The Flyers caught the Lightning during Tampa's red hot stretch to start the season, but we all knew their early season game was unsustainably good, and you might even be able to point to the 2-1 loss against the Flyers on February 5 as where it all turned around and skidded down hill for them. The Lightning were atop the East with a 6-2 record then and had scored more goals per game than any other team in the league -- over four per game -- but since they've gone 5-12-1 and have fallen from first to 12th in the conference.

Anders Lindback starts in goal for the Lightning, and luckily for him, Tom Sestito has moved on to greener pastures (... get it, because the Canucks wear green.... *cricket noise*). Ilya Bryzgalov is coming off quite possibly his best game as a Flyer on Friday night and hey, we'd take a similar performance tonight. Martin St. Louis kills the Flyers and has played well lately, and of course they still have Steven Stamkos over there and the guy is always good for a goal or six.

Questions to Answer
  1. It's Kimmo Timonen's 1,000th game. Does he do anything special?
  2. Can Bryz follow up his brilliant performance from Friday?
  3. The Flyers have scored two even strength goals in their last 14 periods. Can they get back on track?
  4. Stopping Stamkos: The guy has 38 points this year. Can he go a game without getting one?

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