Veteran goaltender Brian Elliott will start back-to-back games for the first time this season when the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.
The 34-year-old Elliott is coming off a strong performance in which he made 33 saves on 35 shots against the Vegas Golden Knights. He improved to 1-1-0 with a 2.56 goals-against average in three games.
Now comes a tough test against Chicago, which has started slowly but features plenty of talent.
“It’s the next opportunity to give your team a chance to win,” Elliott said after Wednesday’s practice. “You can’t take that lightly. They’re a good team; they’re a great team at home. We just have to take the same attitude we have been taking and not let the foot off the gas at any time in the game.”
The Blackhawks will be hungry for success after a 2-1 shootout loss to Vegas on Tuesday night. Chicago led 1-0 before allowing a tying goal late in the third period.
Bad news followed the game as the Blackhawks announced that defenseman Connor Murphy could miss several weeks because of a groin injury. The team placed him on long-term injured reserve Wednesday and recalled defenseman Dennis Gilbert from Rockford of the AHL.
Murphy recently had joined Duncan Keith on the Blackhawks’ most dependable blue-line combination.
“Obviously, that’s a blow for us,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton told reporters. “It’s an opportunity for other guys. We think we need to continue to build depth. That’s what we’re going to need. We can’t just play with six or seven (defensemen) all year. You’re going to need more than that.”
Colliton did not reveal his goaltender for Thursday when asked by reporters following Wednesday’s practice. He could stick with Robin Lehner (1-0-2, 1.93 GAA) for a second consecutive game or turn back to Corey Crawford (1-3-0, 3.58 GAA).
Lehner has been impressive in his first season in Chicago, with 30-plus saves in each of his first three starts. The 28-year-old is 4-6-0 with a 3.01 GAA in 10 career games against Philadelphia.
Crawford has not been as sharp this season, including his most recent performance in which he gave up four goals on 29 shots against the Washington Capitals. He is 2-7-0 with a 2.93 GAA in nine career games against the Flyers.
Travis Konecny leads the Flyers with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his first seven games. Next on the scoring sheet is Oskar Lindblom, who has six points (four goals, two assists) in seven games.
Patrick Kane is the Blackhawks’ scoring leader with eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said he had two good choices in net with Elliott and Carter Hart.
“Obviously, we’re analyzing the performances of the goaltenders, we’re analyzing the performances of the players,” Vigneault said. “That’s why we’re shuffling the deck down there. But with Brian’s last game, there’s no doubt he deserves to come back in goal and give us another good game.”
Elliott is 9-9-1 with a 2.27 GAA in 21 career games against the Blackhawks.
–Field Level Media