Flyers need to (finally) beat lowly Atlanta

  The Fyers have had a tendency to play up or down to their competition this season _ witness their wins over heavyweights Chicago and Washington, along with their losses to bottom-feeders Toronto and Edmonton.

   Oh, and their two one-goal deafeats in their only games against lowly Atlanta, which had a scoring machine named Ilya Kovalchuk when they faced the Flyers earlier this season. Kovalchuk has since been traded to New Jersey.

   Saturday night, the Flyers get a chance to avenge one of those losses as they face the host Thrashers at 7.

    On Nov. 28, Brian Boucher played well, but the Flyers dropped a 1-0 decision in Atlanta because Thrashers goalie Johan Hedberg (34 saves) was flawless.

     The Flyers' 4-3 loss to visiting Atlanta on Jan. 28 was one of their worst of the season. The Flyers blew a 3-1 third-period lead; they had been 20-0-2 when carrying a lead into the third period.

     A win Saturday night would help the Flyers in their drive to secure the fifth spot in the East. They are tied with Ottawa for fifth with 79 points, but the Flyers have a game in hand on the Senators, who play at Dallas on Saturday afternoon.

    The Flyers will conclude the home-and-home weekend series by hosting the Thrashers on Sunday night.