The Philadelphia Flyers were able to break out of a power-play slump in a win over the New York Islanders two weeks ago. Their special teams - and postseason hopes - are in need of yet another boost.
Fighting for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers look to continue their strong play against the Islanders when the teams meet Sunday night.
With seven games remaining, Philadelphia (37-28-10) is hardly assured of returning to the postseason after missing out last year. The Flyers are among several teams vying for one of the final two playoff spots in the East.
|The Philadelphia Flyers are 5-1-0 against the New York Islanders this season and hope for more success on Sunday night as they host their Atlantic Division rival and attempt to hold down the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
Two straight wins have helped the Flyers, who beat the New York Rangers 4-3 in a shootout on Friday night despite going 0-for-6 with the man advantage. Philadelphia has the second-best power-play unit in the league, converting 22.0 percent (79-for-151) of its chances, but is 1-for-17 in its last four games.
The Flyers also were struggling with the man advantage entering their last matchup with the Islanders (33-35-7) on March 8, as they had gone 6-for-63 (9.5 percent) in their previous 15 games. They converted four of seven chances and beat New York 4-1.
Philadelphia is 5-1-0 against the Islanders this season, scoring on 38.5 percent (10-for-26) of its power-play opportunities.
Against the Rangers, the Flyers were good enough at even strength to send the game to a shootout. Danny Briere helped push the game past regulation with two goals in the third period, and Mike Richards and Jeff Carter scored in the shootout to lift Philadelphia.
"I'm hoping that's what is going to get us on a roll," said Briere, who has six goals and four assists in his last 10 games.
Richards also scored in regulation, giving him three goals in his last four games. The third-year center has two goals and two assists in his last three contests versus the Islanders.
Richards and Philadelphia, however, will be facing an Islanders goaltender other than Rick DiPietro for the first time this season. DiPietro, out for New York's remaining seven games after undergoing hip surgery Wednesday, went 1-5-0 with a 3.37 goals-against average against the Flyers.
Wade Dubielewicz has been starting for DiPietro and is coming off perhaps his best game of the season. He made 34 saves as New York snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over New Jersey on Friday night.
"We have a lot of young guys out there now and we want to finish the season on a positive note," said Dubielewicz, 2-0-0 with one tie and a 1.82 GAA in three games against the Flyers.
The Islanders, resigned to missing the playoffs for the second time in three years, have a chance to take a closer look at some of their younger players. Top prospect Kyle Okposo's first NHL goal was the game winner against the Devils, as he beat Martin Brodeur with 2:35 remaining in his second game since being called up.
The 19-year-old winger, selected seventh overall in the 2006 draft, also had his first assist.
"I'm more composed and feeling good out there," Okposo said. "I didn't know if I would get a shot to play here this year. I'm going to make the most of it."