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GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (17-3-6-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (8-14-3-1).TIME: Wednesday, 7 p.m. EST.
The Philadelphia Flyers tune up for a critical home-and-home series as they try to remain unbeaten against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Philadelphia is 2-0-2 all-time against Columbus, and enters this matchup with a league-best 41 points. The Blue Jackets are tied for the fewest points in the Western Conference with 20, but that does not mean Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock will let his team take this game lightly despite what lies ahead.
Following Wednesday's matchup, Philadelphia faces two of its most important games of the season with a home-and-home series against the New Jersey Devils.
Philadelphia has a seven-point lead in the Atlantic Division over the defending Stanley Cup champion Devils, who beat the Flyers 3-2 on Oct. 30 in the rivals' first meeting of the season.
"It's a tough part of the schedule, and we knew that going in," Hitchcock said. "The spirit has been here with our team all year. Every team is now lined up to kick our (butts). We're going to get every team's A-game for the next 10-to-12 weeks, and we just have to be ready for it."
Hitchcock's club improved to 13-1-3 in its last 17 games with a 3-2 comeback victory over Montreal on Monday.
Magnus Ragnarsson and John LeClair scored 2:06 apart late in the third period as the Flyers improved to 1-0-1 on their four-game road trip.
"We have a lot of confidence in all our players," LeClair said. "We knew that if we stayed with it, hopefully we could turn things around. We didn't try anything crazy to try to get back in it, we just stayed with it and it worked out for us."
Jeff Hackett made 36 saves in his second straight start as Robert Esche rested a pulled groin. Hackett made 39 saves Saturday in a tie at Boston and will likely start against the Blue Jackets -- the first time this season he will start three consecutive games.
The two goaltenders have shared equal time in net and have combined for a 1.85 goals-against average, the third-best team average in the league. Antero Niittymaki was called up from the minors to back up Hackett, appearing in the NHL for the first time on Monday.
The Blue Jackets are glad to return home after losing 5-1 at Colorado on Saturday, recording the longest road winless streak in team history at 11 games (0-9-1-1).
Rick Nash scored in his fifth straight game and has 10 goals in his last nine, but Columbus allowed three power-play goals while going 0-for-6 with the man advantage.
"Obviously, there's a lot of urgency in our speeches and in our talk right now about getting that first (road) win under our belt and getting going here," coach Doug MacLean said. "That's not the way it's going to happen."
The Blue Jackets are 1-4-1 in their last six overall.