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Flyers go for 16th consecutive win vs. Islanders

by John Kreiser

FLYERS (38-32-6) at ISLANDERS (31-35-10)

Last 10 -- Philadelphia 3-5-2; New York 5-3-2

Season series -- Thankfully for the Islanders, this is the last of six meetings this season. Philadelphia has won the first five -- and the last 15 games between the teams.

Big story -- The Flyers are involved in a five-team scramble for the last three playoff berths in the East, so they should welcome a game against a team they have totally dominated over the last two-plus seasons. The question is who's going to play goal the rest of the way -- Ray Emery and Michael Leighton are out for the rest of the regular season with injuries, Brian Boucher has struggled and minor-league call-up Jonas Backlund left Saturday's game with a groin injury. Coach Peter Laviolette said Wednesday that Boucher (2-0-0, 1.57 GAA vs. the Isles this season) will start and AHL backup Jeremy Duchesne will also dress.

Team Scope:

Flyers -- Laviolette, who got his start in the NHL as coach of the Islanders, knows his task for this game is to make sure his team avoids overconfidence against a team it has owned for the last two-plus seasons.

"I don't put a whole lot into [the 15-game winning streak]. I really don't," he said Wednesday. "Any team is capable of beating any team on any given night. The team that works the hardest and executes better usually wins the game.

"I know that the Islanders are capable of beating us, so we better be ready to make sure we're ready to beat them. They have a good hockey team and play hard, so it won't be easy."

Islanders -- Coach Scott Gordon has the Islanders playing hard, but they're badly outsized on most nights -- a problem that's magnified against the Flyers, traditionally one of the NHL's biggest teams. Even the New York Rangers, not one of the League's biggest teams, were able to use their size advantage to overcome a 2-0 deficit for a 4-3 victory at the Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night.

"That's the way we've played all year," goaltender Dwayne Roloson said after the Isles fell to 31-35-10 -- still a marked improvement over last season's League-low total of 61. "We play one great period, and then we sit back. I just don't know why we don't play a 60- or 65-minute game."

Who's hot -- No one on either team is tearing up the League. Flyers captain Mike Richards has 3 goals and 6 points in five games against the Isles, though he's gone without a point in his last four games overall. … Blake Comeau had a pair of goals for the Islanders on Tuesday and has 14 for the season, doubling his total for 2008-09.

Injury report -- The Flyers will be without forward Daniel Carcillo, who's serving the last of a two-game suspension. They are also without center Jeff Carter, who's sidelined with a broken foot. Carter is the Flyers' leading scorer against the Isles this season with 4 goals and 7 points, and is 9-7-16 during the 15-game winning streak. Rookie forward James van Riemsdyk (knee), who sat out Sunday, should be ready to go. … The Islanders got defenseman Andrew MacDonald (broken foot) back on Tuesday. Goaltender Rick DiPietro (knee) won't play again this season; he's missed all but 13 games since the start of 2008-09.

Stat pack -- Philadelphia has outscored New York 51-25 since the 15-game streak began, and 15-7 in the five meetings this season. … The Islanders have lost eight games this season in which they led by two or more goals and are the only team that has not rallied from a two-goal deficit to win a game.

Puck drop -- It would be hard to blame the Flyers for coming into this game overconfident -- they've toyed with the Isles for the last two seasons. But with a playoff berth still not a lock, expect them to come out and do what they usually do against the Islanders -- use their size and strength to outmuscle perhaps the NHL's most undersized team.

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