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Preview: Islanders at Flyers

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

NEW YORK ISLANDERS (15-8-4) VS. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (11-11-5)

7 P.M. WELLS FARGO CENTER, MSG+, CHANNEL FINDERWNYE 91.5 FM, WRHU 88.7 FM, LI NEWS 103.9 FM

MORNING SKATE UPDATES:

Halak in Goal: Jaroslav Halak gets the start Tuesday for the Islanders. Halak is 2-0-2 in his past four games with a 1.75 goals-against average. That includes a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 25. 

Same Lineup: The Islanders are going with the same lineup from Friday & Saturday’s games. 

FOUR THINGS:

1. Islanders Flying: The New York Islanders (15-8-5) look to extend their seven-game point streak Tuesday, when they battle the Philadelphia Flyers (11-11-5) at Wells Fargo Center. The Islanders are 5-0-2 in their last seven games, taking 12 of a possible 14 points. The current streak started with a 3-1 win against the Flyers on Thanksgiving Eve and Tuesday marks the Islanders first visit to Philadelphia this season. The Islanders are 5-1-0 in their last six games against the Flyers. 

2. Defense First: The Islanders scored a modest four goals over their past three games (excluding shootout winners), but thanks to stingy defense and strong goaltending, the Islanders are 2-0-1 over that stretch – all against playoff teams. 

“We’ve been focusing on our structure and how we need to play,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “It’s about a team-defense mentality. You have to play sound defensively, our goalies are playing well for us and we just want to play within our framework.”

Capuano said he’s a little concerned about the lack of offense (moreso at 5-on-5) but he’s not going to shake up his lines, mainly because of the contributions his third-and-fourth lines. One player currently playing well is Mikhail Grabovski, as the Islanders’ third-line center has three points (2G, 1A) in his last four games. 

“We have to find a way to get [our top two lines] going,” Capuano said. “There might be other teams that would switch their lines right now. I’ve thought about it, but I’m not going to do that because we’ve been getting production from the other guys.”

3. Flyers Streak Ends/MacDonald Recalled: After losing to the Islanders on Thanksgiving Eve, the Flyers rattled off four straight wins, including W’s over the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. The four-game run came to an end Saturday, as the Flyers dropped a 4-1 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. On Monday, the Flyers recalled former-Islander Andrew MacDonald, one day after announcing that defenseman Luke Schenn will miss two weeks with a lower-body injury. 

4. Simmonds: Wayne Simmonds turned his game up on the Flyers streak, scoring six points (4G, 2A) in a three-game span, including game-winners over the Rangers and Ottawa Senators. The scoring surge ended a six-game pointless drought for the Flyers winger, but Simmonds can also have an impact on a game with his physicality, so even if he doesn’t hit the scoresheet, he can give the Islanders the fits. Simmonds fought Matt Martin in what was a bitter and chippy contest between the teams nearly two weeks ago. 

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