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Flyers go for sweep of Islanders

by Brian Compton

FLYERS (25-19-5) at ISLANDERS (19-24-7)


Last 10: Philadelphia 6-3-1; New York 7-3-0

Season series: This is the fourth and final game between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders and the second of a home-and-home series. The Flyers earned a 6-4 win at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday for their third straight win against the Islanders. Philadelphia has outscored New York 16-8 in the three games.

Big story: New York received some good news Sunday. Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who has not played since sustaining a concussion in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 19, skated with the Islanders at practice. There is still no timetable for his return, but it's encouraging news for New York, which desperately needs Visnovsky back in the lineup, particularly as its power-play quarterback.

"I feel like a hockey player right now because when I wake up, my legs are sore, not just my head," Visnovsky, who wore a yellow, no-contact jersey, told the Islanders website. "My body feels like it did before and it's a great feeling. I am happy to skate with the guys."

Team Scope:

Flyers: Eight games into the season, Philadelphia appeared destined to be a lottery pick at the 2014 NHL Draft. The Flyers had one victory, a new coach (Craig Berube) and a world-class forward (Claude Giroux) who couldn't score goals.

So much has changed since then. Philadelphia has fought its way into playoff position in the Eastern Conference with a record of 21-9-4 since Nov. 8. Giroux scored his first goal of the season on Nov. 9 and has 44 points (13 goals, 31 assists) in 49 games.

"We need to keep working," Giroux told "Every game is the most important game of the season, especially when we play against our division. We need to do a better job.”

Islanders: Visnovsky's teammates were just as elated to see him back on the ice at practice Sunday. The 37-year-old has been a leader on New York's blue line since his arrival and can contribute at each end of the ice. Visnovsky had a goal, two assists and a plus-3 rating in eight games prior to the injury.

"Just the way he plays and how smart he is and how good he is with the puck … just a good teammate, encouraging," Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey said. "I think to get him back for us is going to be huge."

Who's hot: Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros scored twice Saturday. He has three goals and six assists in the past six games. Forward Jakub Voracek is 4-1-5 in the past five. … Islanders captain John Tavares has two goals and two assists in the past four games. Rookie defenseman Calvin de Haan has earned a point in six of the past seven (one goal, seven assists).

Injury report: Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo (ankle) is out. … New York will be missing Visnovsky and Travis Hamonic (upper body) on its blue line, along with goalie Evgeni Nabokov (lower body).

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