TORONTO -- The Flyers and Maple Leafs enter tonight’s game at the Air Canada Centre on two different paths - not for the season, but just based on their third periods in last night’s games.
Toronto, being crushed 4-0 by the white-hot Pittsburgh Penguins, turned it around outscored Pittsburgh 2-1 in the third period.
The Flyers, on the other hand, collapsed after holding a 4-1 lead with 13 minutes to go. The Sharks smelled blood in the water with the Flyers’ parade to the penalty box and ultimately triumphed with a 5-4 shootout win.
Two different teams, two different opponents, two different problems. Each will try to right themselves tonight.
With that, here are 5 things to watch:
BOUCHER IN NET: Brian Boucher will make his first start in the month of December, relieving rookie Sergei Bobrovsky after he made four straight starts in net.
Boucher hasn’t gotten much goal support from his teammates recently, though he has always given the Flyers a chance to win.
Despite Boucher's 3-3-2 record, the Flyers have scored just 20 goals in his eight appearances (2.50 goals per game), compared to 79 for Bobrovsky in his 22 appearances (3.6 goals per game).
Even so, all of Boucher’s five losses this season have been one goal games - three in regulation (Tampa Bay twice and Columbus), once in overtime (St. Louis) and once in a shootout (New Jersey).
Boucher is 3-2-1 with a 1.94 goals against average in 7 career starts against the Maple Leafs.
PHANEUF’S IMPACT: Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf appears to be fired up to be back in tonight’s lineup after missing 17 games with a deep laceration in his left leg.
“It’s been long enough,” Phaneuf told reporters after Thursday’s morning skate. “I wanted to come back as quickly as possible.”
Toronto was 5-4-1 with Phaneuf at the start of the season and they were 5-9-3 without him.
LINEUP CHANGE? Could this be the night that Dan Carcillo gets back in the lineup?
The stats may suggest otherwise, as Nik Zherdev picked up another goal last night and James van Riemsdyk had a solid effort, but Peter Laviolette could be looking for more toughness against Toronto.
Carcillo, who grew up in nearby King City, Ont., has been a healthy scratch for the past three games. The Flyers are 11-2-2 with Carcillo in the lineup and 6-5-3 without him.
HOME COOKING: The Air Canada Centre has been anything but a House of Horrors for the Flyers, who have compiled an 11-8-2 record in the building since it opened in 1999.
The Flyers were 1-1 against the Leafs in Toronto last year and are a combined 33-28-16 in Toronto (Maple Leafs Gardens + Air Canada Centre) in franchise history.
The Maple Leafs are, however, 7-5-3 in front of the home crowd this season.
LEVEL ICE: It isn’t very often that both teams are playing in the back end of back-to-back games together, which should create a level ice surface tonight. Both teams needed to travel as the Leafs were in Pittsburgh.
The Flyers could have the slight advantage in that they are 3-2-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season, while Toronto is 0-2-1.
DID YOU KNOW? Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese played 78 games in net for Toronto during his 11-year NHL career. Reese and assistant coach Craig Berube, who also played for the Leafs, are the only Flyers connections to Toronto.
-Former Flyers captain Dave Poulin is also the Leafs’ vice president of hockey operations.
The game will be televised nationally in Canada, on TSN, and will be available in Philadelphia on Comcast SportsNet.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers