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With two games left in the regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers can't afford to remain in a scoring slump. Plenty of offenses have had their confidence boosted after matchups with the New York Islanders.
In a tight race for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers look to extend a nine-game winning streak against the Islanders and take advantage of one of the league's worst defenses Saturday afternoon.
Philadelphia (43-26-11) was eliminated from contention for first place in the Atlantic Division and fell into a three-way tie for fourth in the East with a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
The Flyers, Carolina and Pittsburgh all have 97 points in the race for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. With a game in hand - Sunday against the Rangers - Philadelphia has an advantage but has to find a way to end its scoring troubles.
Philadelphia has scored three goals in its last two games after netting 11 in its previous two. A matchup with the league-worst Islanders (26-45-9) seems to give the Flyers an outstanding opportunity to get back on track.
With five wins in this season's series, Philadelphia has won nine in a row versus New York since a 4-3 road loss Feb. 12, 2008. The Flyers have never scored fewer than three goals during their run against an Islanders team that has been terrible on defense, particularly in recent weeks.
The Islanders lost 6-1 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night, two days after falling 9-0 to Carolina in the most lopsided defeat in franchise history. New York allowed 94 shots in those contests, the latest ensuring it of finishing with the league's worst record.
The Islanders have lost eight of their last 10 games (2-7-1), allowing five goals or more seven times. They're ranked 28th in the league in defense, giving up 3.31 goals per game with top goaltender Rick DiPietro missing most of the season with a knee injury.
This is the first time in eight seasons that New York will finish with the NHL's worst record, and its defense isn't solely to blame. The Islanders have been held to one goal or none in three of their last four games.
"Right now, in our lineup, we don't have a lot of firepower," said coach Scott Gordon, whose team is averaging 2.42 goals. "It's not going to come as a surprise that the puck is not going to go in as easy as it would for some teams."
Philadelphia could use a boost from its top players.
Center Jeff Carter, who leads the Flyers with 82 points (45 goals, 37 assists), has been held off the scoresheet in four of his last six games. Mike Richards had an assist against the Rangers, but the center has only one goal in his last five games and two in his last 10.
Carter has three goals and two assists, while Richards has a goal and three assists against the Islanders this season.