DALLAS – The Flyers are hoping Petr Mrazek can regain the form he showed in his first three games with the team.
The veteran goalie will start Tuesday night in Dallas, facing a Stars team that has lost eight straight.
“It’s fun to play these games and be in a playoff race,” Mrazek, 26, said after Tuesday’s morning skate at American Airlines Arena. “I was a part of it for two or three years in Detroit when we made the playoffs, and it’s the best time of the year.”
Coach Dave Hakstol, who has made three in-game goalie changes in the last six contests, said he selected Mrazek over rookie Alex Lyon partly because of his experience and because he “came in and did a good job in the game in Pittsburgh.” In that 5-4 overtime loss Sunday, Mrazek relieved Lyon (three goals on 11 shots) early in the second period and stopped 19 of 21 shots.
“Just looking back on some of his past performances, in these situations, he’s been good,” said Hakstol, referring to Mrazek’s play in games that had playoff implications while he was in Detroit earlier in his career.
After playing superbly in his first three starts with the Flyers, Mrazek has sputtered, winning just two of his last 10 appearances. In 13 games with the Flyers, he has a 3.26 goals-against average and an .886 save percentage. That’s well below his career numbers in parts of six seasons with Detroit: a 2.60 GAA and a .912 save percentage.
Michal Neuvirth (lower-body injury) again took part in the morning skate, but isn’t quite ready to return. Neuvirth might get the call Wednesday in Colorado.
“When Neuvy’s ready, he’ll be ready,” Hakstol said.
Mrazek will be opposed by Kari Lehtonen, another veteran who has struggled lately. He has allowed three goals or more in his last six appearances.
In his career against the Flyers, Lehtonen has only one win in 15 decisions (1-11-3) with a 3.45 GAA and .889 save percentage.
As for Mrazek, he is 1-2 with a 2.58 GAA and .910 save percentage against the Stars.
The Flyers are 3-0-2 in their last five games, and Dallas has virtually fallen from playoff contention with its 0-6-2 collapse.
“We battled for one point, and that was an important point,” Hakstol said about Sunday’s 5-4 OT loss in Pittsburgh, “and now we come into another tough building against a team that is going to have a ton of urgency. We have to battle hard for points tonight. That’s the nature of the race, and it has been that way for the last month, if not more.”
The Flyers need to show much more urgency than they showed last week in Detroit, which ended a 10-game losing streak with a 5-4 shootout win in a game in which Lyon relieved Mrazek.
“For us, we have to just make sure we’re ready,” said captain Claude Giroux, who is fifth in the NHL with 91 points. “They’re going to come out stronger at home, so I think it’s a big game for both teams.”
The Flyers have six games left in the regular season. They are in the top wild-card spot, while New Jersey has the second wild-card position. The Flyers are three points ahead of New Jersey, which has a game in hand. They are four points ahead of Florida, which has two games in hand.
“We have to take care of what’s at hand, and what’s at hand tonight is Dallas,” right winger Wayne Simmonds said.
Based on the morning skate, the Flyers will use the same lineup as last game. Defenseman Robert Hagg will be a healthy scratch for the third straight game. … The Flyers are 16-2-1 this season when Simmonds scores a goal. … Shayne Gostisbehere is tied for fourth among NHL defensemen with 57 points (13 goals, 44 assists). … Dallas’ Tyler Seguin has 22 points, including nine goals, in 18 career games against the Flyers. Jake Voracek has 16 assists and 19 points in 22 career games against Dallas. … The Stars are 3-0-1 in their last four home games against the Flyers.