The New York Islanders sitting at the bottom of the Atlantic Division was expected during a rebuilding season. That the Philadelphia Flyers are just a shade better after reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2007-08 comes as a total surprise.
Looking to avoid matching a season high with their fourth straight loss, the Flyers try to beat the Islanders for the sixth consecutive time on Tuesday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum.
Expectations are high for Philadelphia (4-6-3) after it finished with 95 points last season - a 39-point improvement from the previous year - and beat Washington and Montreal in the playoffs before losing to Pittsburgh.
The Flyers, though, struggled defensively during a season-opening 0-3-3 skid before appearing to right themselves with a four-game win streak. Three straight losses, however, have left them one point ahead of the league-worst Islanders (4-8-2).
Despite the return of center Daniel Briere, the Flyers were held to one goal for the second game in a row in Saturday's 2-1 loss to visiting Tampa Bay.
"It's odd when we're scoring goals in bunches and couldn't keep them out of our net, now we are keeping them out of our net and we are not scoring," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "It has to start from not giving up as much at our net. That is where this thing is going to turn around. I think we did that tonight and that is a step in the right direction."
Briere wasted little time making an impact only two weeks after he had surgery to fix a torn abdominal muscle. Originally expected to miss three to four weeks, he centered the first line with Mike Knuble and Simon Gagne and scored his fourth goal of the season.
Martin Biron had a strong game with 20 saves despite the loss and figures to be back in net Tuesday looking to continue his dominance of the Islanders. Biron has won seven straight starts against New York, posting a 1.55 goals-against average.
Briere and captain Mike Richards have also had success against the Islanders. Briere has four goals and four assists during a five-game point streak versus them while Richards has three goals and five assists in his six-game run.
The Islanders squandered a lead of at least two goals for the fourth time in five games in Saturday's 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh.
It was the eighth straight one-goal game for New York, which is 2-4-2 during that span.
"It's terrible," defenseman Andy Sutton said. "If you lose and learn from it, it's one thing, but if you lose and don't learn from it, it's completely another. You have to make a decision on how you want to play and stick with it."
Giving up leads isn't the only problem for the Islanders, who have scored 37 goals in 14 games, better than only Tampa Bay and Florida in the East.
Injuries have also played a role in New York's poor start. Currently sidelined are No. 1 goaltender Rick DiPietro (knee), forwards Mike Sillinger (hip) and Nate Thompson (groin) and defensemen Radek Martinek (shoulder), Brendan Witt (knee) and Freddy Meyer (hernia).
Jeff Carter's second goal of the game with 23 seconds left in overtime gave the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Islanders on Oct. 30.
Philadelphia is 8-1-0 in the last nine meetings, winning three of four on Long Island.