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Pronger Returns As Flyers Face Senators

(Sports Network) – The Philadelphia Flyers will take aim at their eighth win in nine games when they host the struggling Ottawa Senators tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

The red-hot Flyers also expect to welcome Chris Pronger back to the ice tonight, as the club’s top defenseman is set to return from a five-week absence due to a broken right foot.

Pronger suffered the injury in Montreal on Dec. 15 and has missed 13 games while recovering from surgery to repair the break. Philadelphia has posted a 9-4-0 record without the former Hart and Norris Trophy winner in the lineup.

“Things went really good today and I know he’s felt good the last few days, so I think there’s a good chance he’ll play tomorrow,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said on Wednesday.

Pronger has four goals and 11 assists in 31 games this season and has recorded 14 points (1 goal, 13 assists) in 28 regular-season games against Ottawa.

The Flyers, who have 65 points and are tied for the NHL lead with Vancouver, are 7-1-0 so far in January and are coming off a dramatic home victory over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Andrej Meszaros scored the game-winning goal 67 seconds into overtime, as Philadelphia edged the Capitals, 3-2, for its third straight victory.

After the Caps rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period, the contest went into the extra session. Just beyond the opening minute of OT, Matt Carle carried the puck into the zone, kept control near the right circle and sent a pass back to Meszaros, who fired home a wrister past Semyon Varlamov.

“I wanted to shoot — I yelled at Carle to pass it,” said Meszaros. “I was just trying to hit the net and I shot it and it went in.”

Jeff Carter scored in his fourth straight game and Claude Giroux also tallied for Philadelphia. Sergei Bobrovsky made 23 saves for the Flyers, who are three points ahead of Pittsburgh for first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

Tuesday’s game was just the second home test for Philadelphia in its last 11 games. The Flyers, who are 14-6-2 as the host this year, will close a three- game homestand Saturday against New Jersey.

In other news for the Flyers, forward Danny Briere was added to the 2011 NHL All-Star Game roster on Wednesday after it was announced that Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla was excused from the annual contest due to health concerns for his grandmother.

Briere ranks sixth in the league with 24 goals and was considered one of the biggest snubs when the initial All Star Game roster was announced. Briere will join fellow Flyer Claude Giroux and head coach Peter Laviolette as Philadelphia’s representatives in the annual event.

The Senators enter tonight on a three-game slide and Ottawa, which is tied for 12th in the East, has just one win in its last 10 outings (1-6-3). Ottawa’s latest setback came after regulation as Bobby Ryan notched the winner in the shootout to lift the Anaheim Ducks to a 2-1 win Tuesday night in Canada’s capital city.

Ryan ended the second round by beating Brian Elliott with a quick fore-hander. Erik Karlsson then fired a wrister on Jonas Hiller, but he stopped the chance with his pad to end the game.

Mike Fisher provided the goal for the Senators, while Elliott made 26 stops.

“It seems to be the same tale. We did all of the things we wanted to do today except score more than one goal,” said Ottawa’s Chris Kelly.

The Senators have scored a total of four goals during its current three-game slide. Ottawa has also lost four of its last five road games and is just 8-10-4 as the visiting team this season.

The Flyers torched Ottawa, 5-1, when the clubs met in Philadelphia on Nov. 15. Flyers captain Mike Richards led the way with two goals and an assist in that victory, which ended a three-game series’ losing streak for Philadelphia.

Ottawa has taken five of seven overall against the Flyers, but has lost two of three and five of its last seven in Philly.