Last season, Martin Biron helped the Philadelphia Flyers make a run to the Eastern Conference finals. In their attempt to return to the playoffs, the Flyers will rely on Biron again.
Expected to make his 11th start in 12 games, the Philadelphia goaltender will try to win his 11th straight over the host New York Islanders on Saturday night.
Biron won five of his final seven starts in 2007-08 and ended the regular season with consecutive shutouts to help Philadelphia finish sixth in the East. The Flyers went on to beat Washington and the East's top seed - Montreal - but fell to Pittsburgh in five games in the conference finals.
Biron, however, opened this season with four straight losses and was 15-11-5 with a 2.96 goals-against average in his first 32 appearances, forcing Philadelphia coach John Stevens to look to backup Antero Niittymaki for help.
By winning 10 of his last 15 starts with a 2.25 GAA, Biron has regained Stevens' confidence and will get the bulk of the starts for the rest of the season.
"It's pretty clear Marty is going to carry the load now, and I don't see any reason why we'd go away from him," Stevens said on the team's official Web site. "At this time of the year, I think it's important that we keep Marty in the net. He's played well, and we'll just keep an eye on his rest."
The Flyers need Biron to shine as they enter Saturday leading Carolina by only a point for fourth in the East and five ahead of eighth-place Montreal after they had a three-game win streak snapped with Thursday night's 4-2 loss to visiting Florida.
The Flyers offense, which scored 13 times during the streak, failed to respond after the Panthers took the lead 2:38 into the third period. Jeff Carter, however, extended his point streak to five games with his third goal in the last four contests.
Carter, third in the NHL with 41 goals, has more goals (11) and points (26) against the Islanders than any other opponent.
"We did a lot of things right," Biron said. "We missed a lot of chances. I think we played well at times. We just made too many mistakes, and they took advantage."
Philadelphia has a strong chance to bounce back against the NHL's worst team, whom the Flyers have beaten eight straight times. They have also won 11 of the last 12 meetings, and three in a row in Long Island.
Biron has done even better against New York. In addition to his 10 consecutive victories, he has won five straight at Nassau Coliseum dating back to his days with Buffalo and is 9-1-0 in 10 career starts there.
"It's a team that we've matched up really well against over the last few years," Biron said. "Sometimes, you have good feelings against some teams, good feelings in certain buildings."
Despite their league-low 58 points, the Islanders (25-41-8) knocked off one of league's top teams with Friday night's 2-0 victory in Detroit. Facing his former club, Joey MacDonald made 42 saves for his first career shutout.
"It's pretty exciting," MacDonald said. "No better thing than to get your first shutout in the building of the team you used to play for."
The win snapped a three-game skid for New York, which is 9-3-2 in its last 14 home games.