The Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers have gotten off to rough starts, but it's the Flyers who appear to be more desperate as they try to avoid missing the playoffs for the second straight season.
Philadelphia also looks to dodge a fourth straight home loss for the first time in more than two years on Saturday when it hosts Edmonton.
The Flyers (4-10-1) have lost four of five and are hovering near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Last season marked just the second time they failed to reach the playoffs in 17 years, and they appear headed for a similar fate if they can't turn things around.
The Oilers (4-11-2) are also scuffling, losing six of seven overall, though they've won six of seven in the series. The teams haven't played since a 2-0 home win for Edmonton on Feb. 23, 2012.
Philadelphia's offense remains the league's worst, averaging 1.5 goals. The Flyers have just two over their last four contests, including back-to-back shutout losses at home.
They've totaled 11 goals at home while going 2-7-0. The team held a 15-minute closed-door meeting following Thursday's 3-0 loss to New Jersey.
"I've got to get them to play better, that's my job," coach Craig Berube said. "It's not a hard game. It's about competitiveness and a will to win and to do all the little things right to win."
Captain Claude Giroux, a two-time 25-goal scorer, is scoreless through 15 games and declined to talk to the media following the defeat. Vincent Lecavalier has also floundered in his first season with the Flyers, going without a point in his last three games with a minus-4 rating. He has nine points over his last six games against the Oilers, though he hasn't faced them since Dec. 9, 2009.
Fans booed the team off the ice between each period of Thursday's game. Philadelphia hasn't lost four in a row at home since a six-game skid from March 12-April 3, 2011.
"You hear the boos," forward Wayne Simmonds said. "That just means you're not doing your job. The fans react to what they see."
Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins wasn't entirely unhappy with his club after its 4-2 loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday despite a 40-26 advantage in shots.
Taylor Fedun continued an impressive start to his career, scoring a goal two nights after tallying his first in his debut at Florida. Taylor Hall also scored after missing seven games with a knee injury.
"Boy, it's a crazy game," Eakins said. "There's been games this season where you've won the game and maybe you didn't think you deserved it, and you're upset with your play. And there's been games that we've lost where we've been disgusted with ourselves as a group. And then tonight, it's one of those nights where ... I loved the way we played. And I thought we played with passion and we competed hard."
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk has had a rough season with a 3.80 goals-against average, though he recorded a shutout in his last start versus Philadelphia.
The Flyers' Steve Mason owns a 4.09 goals-against average in 10 career starts versus Edmonton.