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Schultz to replace suspended Gudas in Flyers' lineup

Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz will return to the lineup Friday and will replace the suspended Radko Gudas in Friday's game in New Jersey.

Defenseman Nick Schultz will return to the lineup and replace the suspended Radko Gudas on Friday in New Jersey when the Flyers will try to extend their season-high, three-game winning streak.

"The confidence we have in each other is a lot better," captain Claude Giroux said Thursday after practice in Voorhees. "Obviously winning a couple games helps, but it's not just winning those games but how we played, and we beat pretty good teams, too."

The Flyers, who defeated Nashville, the New York Rangers and Ottawa have moved to within three points of a playoff spot. They will be trying to avenge a 4-1 loss to the Devils on Oct. 29.

"They play a good team game," coach Dave Hakstol said. "I think that's what we've been doing to give ourselves success."

Schultz was sidelined with an unspecified injury and missed a 4-2 win in Ottawa on Tuesday.

In that game, Gudas made an illegal hit to the head on Ottawa's Mika Zibanejad. He was suspended for three games.

"He brings a physical presence that is hard to match because of how strong and aggressive he can be," goalie Steve Mason said of Gudas.

Hakstol is juggling his pairings for Friday, getting a puck mover and a stay-at-home defender in each duo. The pairings: Schultz and Evgeny Medvedev; Luke Schenn and Michael Del Zotto; and Shayne Gostisbehere and Brandon Manning.

Only the latter pairing is the same from recent games.

"There's little bit of newness there," Hakstol said, "but it allows Manning and Ghost to stay together. When you break it down, I think there's a good mix of talents on each pair."

Schultz was injured Saturday when he was leveled by the Rangers' 6-foot-5, 220-pound Dylan McIlrath. He said he felt fully recovered. "Ready to go," Schultz said.

The defenseman said he sat out the Senators game for precautionary reasons. "I wanted to be smart about it, especially since we had six healthy guys capable of playing," he said.

Gudas, who is second in the NHL in hits, reiterated that he was disappointed with the suspension and felt it was not warranted. He said he was not targeting Zibanejad's head, as the NHL said.

"The league has a different opinion," Gudas said. "It's hard, but nothing we can do now."

On the play in question, "I was starting with the hit and wanting to make myself big," he said. "Obviously, I didn't want to hit him right in the head, but it happens."

"I disagree with the outcome," Hakstol said of the suspension. "In saying that, it's a league decision and we're going to respect that decision and move forward. We've already done that."


The Flyers have been successful on 21 straight penalty kills. . . . Michal Neuvirth might get the start Friday. Mason is 0-7 with a 3.70 goals-against average and .861 save percentage in eight career appearances against the Devils. The Flyers host Mason's former team, Columbus, on Saturday night. . . . Defenseman Mark Streit, who had pubic-plate detachment surgery Nov. 17, skated with injured forward Sam Gagner before practice. Streit is expected to miss at least three more weeks.