Almost every team with playoff hopes goes on a winning streak at some point during the regular season. The New York Islanders are hoping their time is now.
The surging Islanders seek a season-high fourth straight victory Tuesday night when they host the league-worst Philadelphia Flyers.
The Islanders (31-23-8) have played themselves into the playoff race by recording at least a point in 13 of their last 15 games, going 9-2-4 in that span. Although they are ninth in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders are only one point behind Carolina with two games in hand and two points in back of Montreal with three games in hand on the Canadiens.
In addition, New York has bolstered its offense the last two days as it looks to intensify its push for the postseason. The Isles acquired 31-goal scorer Ryan Smyth from Edmonton on Tuesday for two prospects and a first-round pick in this year's draft. Smyth, due to become a free agent after the season, had 53 points in 53 games for the Oilers.
On Monday, the Isles picked up veteran left wing Richard Zednik from Washington for a second-round draft pick in 2007. Zednik, who had six goals and 12 assists in 32 games this season for the Capitals, scored a career-high 31 goals for Montreal in 2002-03.
"Richard is a proven offensive talent," Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. "When you can add a player with his skill and competitiveness for a playoff push at a fair cost, you do it. We believe Richard will fit in well with our team."
The Islanders matched their longest win streak of the season Saturday with a 3-2 victory over visiting Montreal. Rookie Frans Nielsen scored his first NHL goal and Rick DiPietro stopped 20 shots as New York improved to 4-1-0 during a seven-game homestand that concludes Thursday against St. Louis.
DiPietro, who has made 11 straight starts, has surrendered two goals or fewer nine times this month. He is 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and one shutout against Philadelphia this season.
On pace for the worst season in franchise history, the Flyers (16-37-9) have made several trades over the past two weeks with an eye toward getting younger.
They sent captain Peter Forsberg to Nashville on Feb. 15 for forward Scottie Upshall, defenseman Ryan Parent and two draft picks.
Veteran defenseman Alexei Zhitnik, who began this season with the Islanders, was traded to Atlanta on Saturday for 21-year-old defenseman Braydon Coburn. The eighth overall pick by Atlanta in 2003, Coburn is expected to make his Flyers debut Tuesday.
The Flyers made a big move before the trade deadline, although it's unlikely newly acquired goaltender Martin Biron will play in this game. Obtained from Buffalo on Tuesday for a second-round draft pick, the eight-year veteran went 12-4-1 with a 3.04 goals-against average for the Sabres this season. His career record is 134-115-4 with 25 ties, a 2.53 goals-against average and 18 shutouts.
On Monday, Philadelphia picked up defenseman Lasse Kukkonen and a 2007 third-round draft pick from Chicago for forward Kyle Calder as part of a three-team deal with Detroit.
Philadelphia lost its fourth straight, 5-2 to Toronto on Saturday and dropped to 1-4-1 since trading Forsberg.
The Islanders have won two straight and three of five meetings against the Flyers this season. DiPietro stopped 27 shots in New York's 2-0 home victory over Philadelphia on Feb. 7.