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Islanders look to stop Flyers in push for playoff spot

by Adam Kimelman

FLYERS (17-18-3) at ISLANDERS (19-16-4)


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

Season series: This is the second of four meetings this season between the Atlantic Division rivals. They split their first two games, with Philadelphia winning 7-0 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 18, and the Islanders winning 4-3 in a shootout at Wells Fargo Center on March 28.

Big story: Can the Islanders continue to push for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007? Or can the Flyers recover from a loss in Winnipeg last week to keep charging for a postseason spot?

Team Scope:

Flyers: The Flyers are sitting outside the playoff hunt right now, but team captain Claude Giroux said he's actually having fun right now.

"It's good to have a little pressure, a little excitement," he told reporters Monday. "It's not the position we want to be in right now, but at the same time we have to just have fun with it, come back and make the playoffs. The whole thing when we went to the Cup [Final in 2010] was us winning that last [regular season] game. We had adversity and we went through it. It's a big game for us [Tuesday]."

Working in the Flyers' favor is their recent success on Long Island -- they've won seven straight there.

"You always know you're going to get chances, you just have to capitalize on those opportunities," Scott Hartnell said. "We match up fairly well against them. We've shown that in the past. Hopefully we can get a lead and play hard for 60 minutes."

Islanders: Kyle Okposo admits 2012-13 hasn't been his best season, but now that the team is firmly entrenched in the playoff chase, he's seen his performance rise in the last dozen games.

"I'm playing with some confidence," Okposo told the team's website. "Obviously, it was a frustrating start to the season for me, but you just have to keep going. We have a chance to make the playoffs and that's what really makes me tick."

After totaling two goals and nine points in his first 27 games, he has two goals and eight points in his past 12. And his line, which includes center Frans Nielsen and left wing Josh Bailey, has scored a goal in each of the past four games.

“I think when he's going, that line is better," coach Jack Capuano told the team's website. "He's just working harder. With the lockout, it takes certain guys a little longer to get going. Maybe he was one of those guys. But he's doing the right things -- playing physical, shooting pucks. He's making plays and showing a lot more confidence. He's much more relaxed, and when you do that and have the poise that he has, you're going to have some success."

Who's hot: After going eight games without a goal, Flyers forward Simon Gagne has two goals in his past three games. … Nielsen has points in four straight games for the Islanders, totaling a goal and four assists in that span.

Injury report: The Flyers will be missing forwards Danny Briere (concussion), Maxime Talbot (leg), Zac Rinaldo (high ankle sprain) and Jody Shelley (hip), and defensemen Braydon Coburn (shoulder) and Andrej Meszaros (shoulder). Defensemen Nicklas Grossmann (upper body) is questionable. … Islanders defenseman Joe Finley is out with an undisclosed injury.

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