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At the Rink: Islanders at Flyers

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux didn't take part in the morning skate but is expected in the lineup when the Flyers host the New York Islanders on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, MSG+, CSN-PH).

Giroux leads the Flyers (11-11-5) with nine goals and 22 points.

Also missing from the morning skate was forward Vincent Lecavalier. The Flyers did not give a reason for his absence, and general manager Ron Hextall said he would have an update Wednesday. TSN reported Lecavalier has a back injury. He's been a healthy scratch the past 11 games.

For the Flyers who took the ice, their goal is to put a 4-1 loss Saturday to the Columbus Blue Jackets as far behind them as possible.

While dealing with adversity has been a problem, the Flyers feel their recent run of good play, including a four-game win streak before the loss to the Blue Jackets, will allow them to treat their loss Saturday like a speed bump rather than the start of a snowball rolling downhill.

"I think we've played well the last 10 games," forward Jakub Voracek said. "Last game against Columbus we were tired. It happens; it's hockey. We played four games in six nights and it just hit us and Columbus was ready to play. They were better. But overall I think our last two weeks we've been playing good hockey and we're a pretty confident team right now."

Defenseman Andrew MacDonald will make his NHL season debut. The seven-year veteran was waived and sent to Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League before the start of the season. With defensemen Mark Streit (groin) and Luke Schenn (lower body) injured and Radko Gudas suspended, MacDonald was recalled Monday.

"It's where I want to be," MacDonald said. "Tough couple months there. Just happy to have the opportunity to come back up and try to play my game and see how it goes."

MacDonald, 29, had one goal and 13 points in 23 AHL games. More importantly, he said he regained some of the confidence he had lost in his play.

"I just wasn't making plays with any type of confidence," he said. "Down there I was able to play in all types of situations and really just try to get back to doing things that I used to do. Not worry about mistakes or coming in and out of the lineup and stuff. Had a good opportunity there where the coaches had a lot of faith in me and played me a lot. Just try to build on that."

The Islanders (15-8-5) are confident as well, having gone seven straight games without a regulation loss (5-0-2).

Sparking their play has been a balanced offensive attack that hasn't needed to rely as much on captain John Tavares. He leads the Islanders with 12 goals and 22 points, but he has three points in the past seven games.

Three forwards in particular have picked up the slack: Josh Bailey, who has three goals in seven games; Ryan Strome, who has two goals and five points in six games; and Mikhail Grabovski, who has two goals and two assists in seven games.

"It's motivating for you; you want to help the team out as well," Tavares said. "It's what I'm mostly counted on for. … When you see other guys playing well, other lines playing well, it pushes me and my line to be playing at a high level and contributing as well."

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said it's been good to have offense from places other than the top line, but the key has to be having it consistently be reliable.

"We want to be balanced," he said. "It is a luxury during this stretch that other guys have picked it up offensively. But that's got to continue and then the other lines have to contribute as well. And to compound that we have to get some point production from our back end."

Here are the projected lineups:


Brock Nelson - John Tavares - Kyle Okposo

Anders Lee - Frans Nielsen - Josh Bailey

Nikolai Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Ryan Strome

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Travis Hamonic

Calvin de Haan - Johnny Boychuk

Thomas Hickey - Marek Zidlicky

Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Eric Boulton (lower body), Jean-Francois Berube (lower body)

Scratched: Steve Bernier, Brian Strait


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Brayden Schenn

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Jakub Voracek

R.J. Umberger - Scott Laughton - Ryan White

Michael Del Zotto - Andrew MacDonald

Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere

Nick Schultz - Evgeny Medvedev

Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth

Injured: Sam Gagner (upper body), Mark Streit (groin)

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier

Suspended: Radko Gudas

Status report: Capuano said there would be no lineup changes from the Islanders' 3-2 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. … Gagner, who was placed on injured reserve Monday, was between Raffl and Brayden Schenn during line rushes at the morning skate. Streit, who skated Monday, came out near the end of practice and worked on some shooting drills. It's the first time he's been on the ice on consecutive days since Nov. 17 surgery to repair a detached pubic plate. He's expected to be out at least another 2-3 weeks.

Who's hot: Halak has allowed five goals in regulation in his past four games. … Gostisbehere has four goals and four assists since being recalled from the AHL, with one point in eight of his 11 games.


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