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The way things have been going on Long Island lately, the New York Islanders might not mind heading on a road trip. They could really enjoy it if their power play finally starts working.
The four-game trek begins with a matchup against the team they are currently chasing for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as they meet the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Six of New York's next seven games will be on the road, where the Islanders (32-30-7) have won four of five - each victory coming by one goal. Things haven't gone nearly as well at home lately, losing four in a row by a combined 13-4 score.
|The Islanders playoff push begins tonight when they kick off a four-game road trip in Philadelphia to face a Flyers team that currently holds the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)|
It hasn't mattered where the Islanders have played as far as their power-play problems go. They are 2-for-41 with the man advantage over the last 10 games, going scoreless in 10 opportunities since netting one in a 4-1 home loss to the Flyers last Saturday.
"It's awful. It's awful," Bill Guerin said of New York's power play, which has a conference-worst 15.4-percent success rate. "We've tried to figure it out. We've tried to do different things every game. I don't know what it is."
The Islanders wasted a 5-on-3 advantage for 51 seconds of the second period en route to an 0-for-5 finish on the power play in a 4-1 home loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday.
That defeat kept the Islanders in 11th place in the East, five points behind the Flyers (34-26-8) for eighth with 13 games to play.
"We're going to have to win a lot of those, and some people are going to have to lose," said Guerin, who has just two goals in his last 22 games. "Nobody is quitting. We're going to keep going and see where everything falls after 82 games."
Guerin has scored 20 goals to share the team lead with Mike Comrie, who has just two points in the last nine games for an Islanders team which has a conference-low 169 goals.
New York also meets Tampa Bay, Florida and Montreal on this road swing after visiting Philadelphia, where it has lost its only two visits this season.
The Flyers were free-falling from the playoff picture with a 10-game losing streak, but they have since bounced back to go 4-1-1 and Jeff Carter has keyed the resurgence.
The third-year center has five goals and two assists during a four-game point streak, helping Philadelphia overcome injuries to many top players. Simon Gagne is out for the season (concussion), Mike Richards (hamstring) is expected to miss another two weeks and Joffrey Lupul (ankle) remains day-to-day after sitting out the last three weeks.
"We need people to step up in the absence of some really good players and Jeff has done that," Flyers coach John Stevens said.
Carter tied Mike Knuble for the team lead with 25 goals after scoring twice, including the game-winner with 1:54 to play, in a 3-2 victory over Tampa Bay on Thursday.
"I just take it and run with it," he said. "I've never been in such a situation where you're relied upon so heavily. I kind of like it."
Carter has six points this season versus the Islanders to help the Flyers win four of five meetings and they've all come against Rick DiPietro, who is likely to be in net for the first time in a week.
After being away from the Islanders for three days following the death of his grandmother, DiPietro returned to practice Wednesday but coach Ted Nolan gave Wade Dubielewicz his third straight start the following night. DiPietro has lost three of his last four starts, allowing at least three goals in each.
"Ricky's had three or four days off," Nolan said after deciding to start Dubielewicz on Thursday. "It's kind of unfair to put him into a situation like this. Now, he's got two practices, and he'll run with it from here on in."