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Islanders-Flyers Preview

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The New York Islanders and Jason Blake are in the midst of their worst slump of the season, and the frustration may be starting to show.

Blake and the Islanders may have a good opportunity to end their recent struggles when they visit the team with the league's worst record, the Philadelphia Flyers, on Thursday at the Wachovia Center.

New York (21-21-4) has lost nine of its last 11 games and Blake, who leads the team in goals (23) and points (42), has been held without a goal in seven straight games, recording just two points during that span.

As the Islanders dropped their third straight contest, 5-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday, Blake had little impact until a late-game altercation where he speared Penguins star Sidney Crosby in the abdomen.

Crosby was not seriously injured, but Pittsburgh coach Michel Therrien said he hoped the league would intervene.

"The spearing at the end of the game is unacceptable to us," he said. "I hope the NHL makes the right call (fine or suspension)."

The incident came a few days after Blake was named to his first All-Star team. The 33-year-old left wing, who will be the Isles' lone representative at the All-Star game, is on pace to surpass his career highs of 28 goals and 57 points, both recorded last season.

"Everyone has their own little niche in the league," the 5-foot-10 Blake told the NHL's official Web site. "I'm not the biggest guy. I'm not the most skilled guy. Everyone in the league has to find something they do well."

Blake has recorded nine goals and 14 points in 30 career games against the Flyers (11-30-4). The nine goals are his second-most against any opponent, trailing the 15 he's scored against the Penguins.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, has lost six straight games and 15 of its last 18 as its dismal season continues. The Flyers have been outscored 28-13 during the current losing streak, which continued Saturday with a 5-3 loss to the Penguins.

The teams were tied at three entering the third period before Pittsburgh scored two goals - including an empty-netter to seal the defeat for Philadelphia.

"We try to make a stand against a team and they still found a way to win the game, and we still found a way to lose it," Flyers right wing Mike Knuble said. "We've got to make some sort of progress. We've got to win one of those for once."

Ryan Potulny, Simon Gagne and Peter Forsberg each scored for the Flyers, who fell to 3-13-4 at home, where they have been outscored 76-48.

"It was one of our best home games, but I guess that doesn't say a whole lot, does it," said Forsberg, who has recorded three points in the last two games after being sidelined for four contests by a strained groin.

This is the fourth of eight meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals this season. The Flyers have won two of the previous three, with both wins coming on the road.

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