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Flyers' Colin McDonald eager to face Islanders

by John Kreiser / NHL.com

FLYERS (7-9-5) at ISLANDERS (10-8-3)

TV: NBCSN, TCN-PH

NEW YORK -- Colin McDonald is back in the NHL just in time to face his old team.

McDonald, recalled by the Philadelphia Flyers from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, will be in the lineup against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Wednesday.

McDonald played 133 games with the Islanders during the past three seasons before signing with the Flyers as a free agent this summer. He'll take the place of Sam Gagner, who sustained what general manager Ron Hextall called a pressure cut on his forehead during Philadelphia's 3-2 overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday and will miss another week.

"I'm excited just to get another day in the NHL, and to play against these guys," said the 31-year-old forward, who missed 14 AHL games with a lower-body injury before returning last week. "It's always fun to play against your old team. I've been in this situation before and it's never personal, but you always want to prove something."

McDonald had two goals and eight points in 18 games for the Islanders last season and was scoreless in two Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"He's a gritty, scrappy, two-way winger," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said after the morning skate, adding that having McDonald make his NHL return against his former club is "just a coincidence. But I'm sure he'll be ready to play tonight."

The Flyers haven't seen the Islanders in person since the preseason, but Hakstol said he's impressed with what how they've looked on video.

"We haven't seen them up close and personal, but they're an outstanding team," Hakstol said. "They're four lines deep, and the four lines all look a little bit different. They also generate an awful lot from their back end. They've got a lot of weapons."

The Islanders are coming off back-to-back weekend losses to the Montreal Canadiens, including a 4-2 defeat at Bell Centre on Sunday in which their penalty-killing problems continued. Montreal scored three times on five power-play chances, and New York has allowed seven power-play goals on 20 opportunities in its past seven games.

"Since the Boston game here [on Nov. 8], our penalty-killing hasn't been very good," coach Jack Capuano said after New York's optional morning skate. "There's no reason our penalty-killing should dip like it has dipped over the last two weeks. That's one of the reasons we've struggled."

The Islanders' power play has also struggled, going 2-for-29 in the past seven games, and Capuano said the problems on special teams are a big reason New York is 4-6-0 this month and 3-4-0 in its past seven games.

"We have to clean up our special teams if we want to be successful," he said. "I like the way we're playing [at] even strength, and systematically we're doing some good things, but I want the guys to play. We talk about the discipline of our game, but at the same time I want them to read and react, play physical, play fast and do what we need to do."

Jaroslav Halak will be back in goal for the Islanders after Thomas Greiss played Sunday in Montreal. Halak was pulled from his last start after allowing three first-period goals on 11 shots to the Canadiens in a 5-3 home loss on Friday, but has a 7-3-0 record against Philadelphia.

Steve Mason, 5-1-3 with a 2.25 goals-against average in nine decisions against the Islanders, will play for the Flyers after Michal Neuvirth was in goal for the win against Carolina.

Here are the projected lineups:

FLYERS

Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Brayden Schenn

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds

Taylor Leier - Scott LaughtonColin McDonald

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Jakub Voracek

Michael Del Zotto - Radko Gudas

Nick Schultz - Luke Schenn

Brandon Manning - Shayne Gostisbehere

Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth

Injured: Ryan White (shoulder), R.J. Umberger (foot), Mark Streit (groin)

Scratched: Vincent Lecavalier, Evgeny Medvedev

ISLANDERS

Brock NelsonJohn TavaresKyle Okposo

Anders Lee - Frans NielsenJosh Bailey

Nikolay Kulemin - Mikhail Grabovski - Steve Bernier

Matt Martin - Casey Cizikas - Cal Clutterbuck

Nick Leddy - Johnny Boychuk

Calvin de Haan - Travis Hamonic

Brian Strait - Marek Zidlicky

Jaroslav Halak

Thomas Greiss

Injured: Eric Boulton (lower body), Thomas Hickey (lower body)

Scratched: Taylor Beck, Adam Pelech

Status report: White took part in the morning skate but not in contact drills. Lecavalier is a healthy scratch for the sixth straight game. … Bernier and Zidlicky are dressing after being scratched on Sunday; Beck, who took the penalty that led to the game-winning goal by the Canadiens, will sit, as will Pelech, a rookie defenseman. Capuano said Hickey, who hasn't played since Oct. 24, is getting close to returning. He'll make the Islanders' two-game trip to Florida and might play Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Who's hot: Giroux has the most assists (26) and points (37) against the Islanders than any other team in his career, in 33 games played. … Tavares has five goals and eight points in the eight games he's played this month, including a goal in the loss at Montreal.

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