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Game Preview: Islanders at Flyers

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders
The NHL playoffs are right around the corner and the New York Islanders can punch their ticket with a single point against the Philadelphia Flyers tonight at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center.


A win or overtime/shootout loss sends the Islanders to the postseason for the second time in three seasons. An Ottawa Senators loss would present another clinching scenario for the Islanders, but they’d rather take matters into their own hands.

“That’s always our approach,” John Tavares said. “We just want to play well, win and take care of business. We’re fighting for home ice as well so the points are big.”

The Islanders and Washington Capitals are currently battling for the second seed in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals are one point up on the Isles, but the Islanders hold a game in hand. The Capitals are idle tonight, so the Islanders can leapfrog into second place with a win over the Flyers.

The Islanders’ quest for home ice is keeping the team’s focus squarely on its Metropolitan Division rival, who has points in six straight (3-0-3) and is coming off a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“This year we’ve done a pretty good job of not overlooking anything,” Travis Hamonic said. “We’ve done a good job of worrying about the task at hand and what’s up next. The focus is on Philly.”

The Islanders are 3-0-0 against the Flyers this season and are going for their first season sweep in franchise history. The games are closer than the 3-0-0 record suggests, as the Islanders won two games in a shootout, including a 3-2 comeback win in Philadelphia on Feb. 5.

“They are a proud team,” Hamonic said. “They play that playoff brand of hockey. They like to engage physically. It’ll be a good test and get our game to where we need it.”

The Islanders are 2-0-1 in their last three games and finish the season with three games against the Metro Division (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Columbus). The Islanders are 20-5-2 against the Met this season.

“It’s been a big part of our success this year,” Tavares said of the divisional record. “Anytime you can have that kind of record in your division, you give yourself a pretty good chance to make the playoffs. We know those games are always intense, there’s always a lot of passion involved.”

Mikhail Grabovski participated in a full practice with the Islanders Monday and made the trip to Philadelphia for conditioning purposes. He will take the ice for morning skate, but there is no timetable for his return to the lineup.

“Right now we just want to see how he feels on a day-to-day basis,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “He’s not close to playing yet, but it’s good to see him out there.”

Puck drop is at 7 p.m.

New York Islanders
46-27-6 (98 points – 3rd in Metropolitan Division, 5th in Eastern Conference)
15-11-1 road
Philadelphia Flyers
32-29-18 (82 points - 6th in Metropolitan Division, 12th in Eastern Conference)
22-9-7 home
7:00  p.m.
Wells Fargo Center

Philadelphia, PA

Television:
MSG+2
Play-by-play: Howie Rose
; Color: Butch Goring
Channel Finder

Radio: WRHU 88.7 FM, LI News Radio 103.9 FM
Play-by-play: Chris King; Color: Greg Picker
Islanders News:
- Islanders TV: Divisional Games (Apr. 6)
- Dal Colle vs. Ho-Sang (Apr. 6)

Islanders player to watch
Travis Hamonic - Defense

Travis Hamonic is enjoying a career year on the Islanders blue line, setting career highs with 28 assists and 33 points. Hamonic has assists in three straight games and four of his last five contests. The St. Malo, Manitoba native’s five goals tie a career high, set in the 2010-11 season. While he’s having a career year offensively, Hamonic is still a rugged, physical defenseman, with 211 hits and 85 PIMs this season.
Flyers player to watch
Brayden Schenn - Forward

Brayden Schenn is on a tear of late, with six points (three goals, three assists) in his last three games, including a three-point game (one goal, two assists) against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. The offensive outburst earned Schenn the NHL’s Second Star of the Week. Schenn is enjoying a career year offensively, as he set career highs in assists (28) and points (45) while chipping in 17 goals. His previous high was 41 points.
New York Islanders previous game lines
Forwards
86 Nikolay Kulemin
91 John Tavares 18 Ryan Strome
12 Josh Bailey 51 Frans Nielsen21 Kyle Okposo
27 Anders Lee
29 Brock Nelson 15 Cal Clutterbuck
36 Eric Boulton
– 
53 Casey Cizikas 17 Matt Martin

Defensemen

2 Nick Leddy 55 Johnny Boychuk
37 Brian Strait
3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey – 11 Lubomir Visnovsky

Goaltenders
41 Jaroslav Halak
30 Michal Neuvirth
Philadelphia Flyers previous game lines
Forwards
10 Brayden Schenn - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek
25 Ryan White - 49 Scott Laughton - 17 Wayne Simmonds
18 R.J. Umberger - 14 Sean Couturier - 24 Matt Read
76 Chris VandeVelde - 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 40 Vincent Lecavalier

Defensemen:
55 Nick Schultz - 32 Mark Streit
47 Andrew MacDonald - 8 Nicklas Grossmann
15 Michael Del Zotto - 22 Luke Schenn

Goaltenders
35 Steve Mason
29 Ray Emery


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