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Flyers look to continue mastery of struggling Isles

by Matthew Mankiewich
FLYERS (8-4-1) at ISLANDERS (4-7-2)


Last 10 --
Philadelphia 6-4-0; New York 3-6-1

Season series -- One game's already in the books, an ugly 6-1 Philly drubbing of the Isles last Saturday night that sent them reeling through two more just like it, 7-2 in Carolina and 4-1 in Ottawa. For the Flyers, it was the third of their current five-game winning streak that has rocketed them to the top of the Atlantic Division standings. Not that the win was so unusual, as the Flyers are 19-2-0 versus the Islanders in their last 21 meetings.

Big story -- The Islanders just completed a portion of the schedule that had them playing seven of eight on the road, and they've lost their last six in a row. They come home to face a team that not only dominated them on the scoreboard, but joined the Isles in racking up 120 penalty minutes, including six 10-minute misconducts -- one of which earned Daniel Briere a three-game suspension, the last of which he serves Saturday night.

Team scope:

Flyers -- It's all good right now in Philly. After eight games of inconsistent play to start off the season, things have clicked during this five-game winning streak. They started the season 3-for-35 (8.6 percent) on the power play, but have raised it to a 9-for-28 clip over these last five games, including goals from Mike Richards and Chris Pronger in their 4-1 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night.

"I think first and foremost we're getting more traffic, or we're moving the puck around quicker," Pronger told the Flyers' official website. "You can't stay stagnant -- otherwise you don't make the box move and you don't create openings."

Pronger scored twice with an extra man in last Saturday's win, adding to his team's 28-for-78 (35.9 percent) mark against the Islanders in those last 21 games.

Islanders -- Power-play goals are nice, but the Islanders will take any offense they can find. Outscored 29-11 over the six-game slide and 17-4 in the last three, an argument can be made that things are tough all over.

Even as the losses mount, though, emotions from last week's game at Wells Fargo Center still linger.

"We went into their building, they beat us 6-1 and we got embarrassed," defenseman James Wisniewski told Newsday. "It's been a downfall since then. This can give us a little redemption."

And the Briere cross-check that will keep him out of Saturday night's game is still fresh in the mind of coach Scott Gordon.

"He got called on that one but he had two others in the game -- one on (Trent) Hunter and one on (Trevor) Gillies," Gordon told Newsday. "Gillies gets six minutes, Hunter gets five and (a game misconduct), and here's a guy that thinks he just has free reign to cross-check people in the back, the shoulder, the head. I think it's well-deserved."

Who's hot -- Don't take too many penalties against the Flyers. Six of Scott Hartnell's 11 goals against the Islanders and four of Jeff Carter's 12 have come on the power play, while Claude Giroux has three with a man up, three with a man down and one even-strength. Sergei Bobrovsky has been in nets for the duration of Philly's five straight wins.

Injury report --
Hunter (foot) missed Thursday's game, but the Isles say it was more of a maintenance day for him on the end of a back-to-back.

Stat pack -- One thing that has worked rather well for the Isles, at least early on, has been the power play. They're fifth in the NHL at 23.4 percent, while Philly is sixth on the penalty kill at 87.7 percent. The six-game slide has also dropped the Islanders to the bottom of the NHL in goals allowed per game at 3.62.

Puck drop --
"It's not a contact sport for nothing. Both teams are going to hit and I'm looking forward to it." -- Gillies in Newsday on what he expects Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.

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