It appeared a franchise record 10-game losing streak had taken all the life out of the Philadelphia Flyers, sending what had been a surprising season into a virtual tailspin.
The Flyers, apparently, have decided to fight back.
Following two impressive come-from-behind victories, Philadelphia looks to win its third straight Saturday when it begins a brief weekend trip to the Big Apple with a game against the resurgent New York Islanders.
The Flyers (32-25-7) gave up a goal in the final seconds of regulation on Saturday, eventually falling 2-1 in overtime to Florida. It was the team's 10th straight loss, and that disappointment appeared to carry over into their game Monday at Buffalo, when they gave up three quick goals.
|The Flyers seek their third consecutive win, following a franchise-record 10-game skid, when they visit Long Island to take on the Islanders Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/Don Heupel)
But Philadelphia battled back to beat the Sabres 4-3 in a shootout, then posted a 3-1 victory over Ottawa on Thursday, a win that center Daniel Briere believes can be a building block as the team makes its playoff push.
"When you put two in a row together confidence starts to grow," Briere told the team's official Web site. "If we are able to get a third one, it will just continue to grow and grow. We know we can do it because we had been on a really good stretch before we hit that winless streak."
The Senators' Jason Spezza scored the game's first goal, but Flyers goalie Martin Biron didn't like Spezza's lengthy celebration. He shoved the Ottawa center in the back and after an exchange of words, Spezza was tossed. That was the only goal Biron has allowed since late in the first period against Buffalo.
"Plain and simple, he is in our building and celebrating at the top of my crease," Biron said. "I did not like it, and I was not going to accept that."
Mike Knuble scored Philadelphia's final two goals against Ottawa, giving him 24 on the season. Six Flyers have scored at least 20 goals, though Mike Richards (23) is expected to miss three weeks with a torn left hamstring.
Scott Hartnell, who scored his 20th against the Sabres, had his third career hat trick on Jan. 19 against the Islanders.
The player on the team with the most goals hasn't even scored yet in a Flyers uniform. Vaclav Prospal, acquired Monday from Tampa Bay, made his Philadelphia debut on Thursday. He had 29 goals with the Lightning, including 10 in his last 12 games.
The Islanders (31-27-7) can relate to long losing streaks. They dropped seven straight between Jan. 24-Feb. 9 and appeared to be fading from the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
But they're 7-2-0 since, including a 5-4 overtime win at Atlanta on Thursday after blowing a 3-0 lead in the second period.
"I give our team credit. We buckled down in the third period and got it done," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "The way we surrendered the three-goal led was disheartening. Fortunately, we found a way to get the two points."
Mike Comrie had two goals for New York, giving him 20 on the season. While the Flyers have six 20-goal scorers, Comrie became the Islanders' first. They were the last team to have a player score 20.
New York has only 163 goals as a team, the fewest in the East. Part of the Islanders' scoring struggles can be attributed to their power play, which is successful just 15.7 percent of the time. That unit has been even worse lately, scoring just once in 28 chances in the last six games.
Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro, who has allowed four goals in each of his past three starts, hasn't done much better against the Flyers this season, going 1-3-0 with a 3.29 goals-against average.
DiPietro did earn a victory against Philadelphia on Feb. 12, as New York won 4-3 to snap its seven-game losing streak.
Philadelphia visits the New York Rangers on Sunday.