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Islanders look to break recent hex by beating Flyers

by Brian Hunter /
FLYERS (16-7-4) at ISLANDERS (5-14-5)


Last 10:
Philadelphia 5-3-2; New York 1-6-3

Season series:
Third of six meetings this season between these Atlantic Division rivals. The Flyers have continued their recent dominance of the Islanders with victories of 6-1 in Philadelphia on Oct. 30 and 2-1 on Long Island on Nov. 6. Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was in goal for both games. Jeff Carter, Andreas Nodl and Chris Pronger have 2 goals apiece in the series.

Big story: Philadelphia has won 17 of the last 18 games in this series. The Flyers are coming off their first win in four games and are battling the Penguins for first place in the Atlantic. The Islanders, meanwhile, are looking to get any sort of momentum going after losing 16 of their last 17 games, including getting swept in a home-and-home series by the rival Rangers.
Team Scope:

Flyers: A pair of shootout defeats and a loss that featured 41 shots but not a single goal against Boston's Tim Thomas wasn't exactly reason for panic in Philadelphia. Still, it had to feel good for the Flyers when they overcame a pair of one-goal deficits against the Devils on Saturday afternoon and posted a 5-3 victory. Mike Richards' go-ahead goal in the third period gave him 10 for the season and Claude Giroux, Danny Briere and Carter -- all of whom were already in double digits -- also scored.

"It was good to finally win a tight game," said Briere, who ended up with the game-winner. "Even though they have struggled this year, we always fight hard against each other."

Islanders: In the span of a little over 24 hours, the Islanders played two very different games against the Rangers, but lost both. Blake Comeau had a goal and an assist -- one of 11 different Islanders to score at least a point -- in a 6-5 barnburner at the Nassau Coliseum on Thursday. There was very little offense to be found at Madison Square Garden on Friday, however, as they were blanked 2-0 by Henrik Lundqvist.

"It was a tough loss," center Frans Nielsen said. "We just have to win. We had a couple chances, but we need to create more. (Lundqvist) probably saw most of the shots there so we made the game too easy for him."

Who's hot:
Briere and James van Riemsdyk, who also scored Saturday, each have 3 goals in their last five games for the Flyers. Bobrovsky, the NHL's Rookie of the Month for November, beat the Devils for his 13th win of the season, third in the League. … Rob Schremp had goals in consecutive games before he and the rest of the Islanders were blanked on Friday.

Injury report: Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton (back) is on a conditioning assignment with Adirondack of the AHL, while forward Daniel Carcillo is recovering from a sprained left knee. Forward Ian Laperriere (post-concussion syndrome) and defenseman Matt Walker (hip) are on injured reserve.

New York forward Kyle Okposo, who suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder during training camp and underwent surgery, is skating again in full gear but not yet ready to return. He's on injured reserve along with forward Trent Hunter (torn MCL) and defensemen Mark Streit (shoulder), Milan Jucina (hamstring) and Mike Mottau (eye). Forward Doug Weight (back spasms) and defenseman Bruno Gervais (broken cheekbone) are day-to-day.

Stat pack:
The Flyers' power play is in a 2-for-41 slump over the last 10 games. … After turning the puck over 25 times in the opener of the home-and-home, the Islanders only had five giveaways in the rematch.

Puck drop:
Although the end result was the same, New York's effort on home ice its last time facing Philadelphia was markedly different from the opening game of the season series in the City of Brotherly Love. If the Islanders can duplicate that Sunday, they might find the formula to breaking the Flyers' seeming hex on them.

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