The Philadelphia Flyers were playing well before getting Simon Gagne back in their lineup. Adding a two-time 40-goal scorer has only made them better.
The Flyers try to stretch their road winning streak to a season-best five straight Saturday night when they face the Atlantic Division rival New York Islanders.
Philadelphia (24-15-5) had won five of six before Gagne returned in a 6-2 road victory over the New York Rangers on Jan. 10. After missing 26 games with a concussion, he had more than 17 minutes of ice time and scored his fifth goal of the season in that win.
"After the first I recovered pretty quick and I started to feel a little bit better in the second and third," Gagne said. "I got hit twice pretty hard, a couple close to the head, and I responded pretty good. I passed my first test."
Gagne has contributed another goal and two assists over his last three games, helping the Flyers go 2-0-1 in that span.
He had one of his team's four first-period goals, and Daniel Briere added a pair or scores as Philadelphia started fast and held on for a 5-3 victory over visiting Florida on Wednesday.
"It's a good feeling to come out in the first period and really take it to them," Briere said. "It's good for our confidence."
The Flyers should be very confident going on the road, having won four straight away from home to match a season high. During that span, they have scored 19 goals and are 6-for-15 on the power play while limiting the opposition to one goal in 22 chances with the man advantage.
A victory Saturday would give Philadelphia its longest road winning streak since a six-game run from Dec. 13-29, 2005.
Philadelphia is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games overall, allowing just 22 goals.
Antero Niittymaki, who has spent most of this season backing up Martin Biron, made 28 saves to improve to 5-0-1 with a 2.00 goals-against average in his last six starts. Biron also has played well lately, going 3-1-0 with a 2.50 GAA in his past four games.
Biron has helped the Flyers win both meetings this season with the Islanders, allowing three total goals. He is 10-4-0 with one tie, two shutouts and a 2.03 GAA in 15 career starts against New York.
Left wing Scott Hartnell and defenseman Kimmo Timonen, both acquired from Nashville in the same offseason trade, have been big offensive contributors lately for Philadelphia. Hartnell has six goals and three assists during a five-game point streak while Timonen has two goals and four assists in his last two contests.
The Islanders (23-18-5) continued their dominance over New Jersey on Wednesday, beating the Devils 3-1 for their sixth straight win against their division rivals.
Rick DiPietro was excellent again with 37 saves and captain Bill Guerin scored twice as New York picked up at least a point for the 11th time in 14 games (8-3-3).
"We just seem to play well against them," DiPietro said. "You find if you play long enough, there are certain teams you play well against. The last couple of years, it has been the Devils."
Few goaltenders have been as busy - or as good - as DiPietro lately. He is 3-2-2 with a stellar .936 save percentage in his last seven starts, facing at least 30 shots six times in that span.
DiPietro is playing behind a banged-up defense that has been without rugged Brendan Witt and Radek Martinek, New York's most steady defenseman. Chris Campoli also could sit out Saturday after he didn't play the final two periods Wednesday because of a shoulder injury.
The Islanders had won five straight against the Flyers before losing the first two meetings this season.
|Mar 29 '08||PHI 4 at NYI 3 - SO||D. Briere|
|Mar 23 '08||NYI 1 at PHI 4||B. Coburn|
|Mar 08 '08||NYI 1 at PHI 4||J. Carter|
|Mar 01 '08||PHI 4 at NYI 1||B. Coburn|
|Feb 12 '08||PHI 3 at NYI 4||R. Fedotenko|
|Jan 19 '08||PHI 5 at NYI 3||S. Hartnell|
|Nov 12 '07||NYI 2 at PHI 3||M. Richards|
|Oct 13 '07||NYI 1 at PHI 3||S. Kapanen|