FLYERS (12-8-1) at ISLANDERS (9-8-7)
Last 10 --
Philadelphia 6-4-0; New York 4-4-2.
Season series --
This is the first of six meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. In their final showdown of 2008-09, Martin Biron made 30 saves on April 11 for his former club, leading Philadelphia to a 3-2 victory at Nassau Coliseum.
Big story --
Wednesday marks the Islanders' first home game since Nov. 7, as they just completed a seven-game road trip that saw them go 3-2-2. Their third win was the hardest -- Dwayne Roloson was forced to make 58 saves in a 4-3 overtime victory at Toronto. Both the Isles and Flyers enter this game with 25 points, although Philadelphia has three games in hand.
The road has not been kind to Philadelphia, which suffered its third straight loss on Monday in a 5-4 defeat at Colorado. The Flyers have just one win on this five-game trip, which came in Los Angeles on Nov. 18. They fell behind 5-2 against the Avalanche before attempting to rally in the third period. Danny Briere
had four points (2 goals, 2 assists) in the loss.
''It was gut-check time and we need to answer the bell,'' defenseman Chris Pronger
said. ''The way we played in the third period is the way we have to play each and every period in each and every game.''
What a difference goaltending can make. With Rick DiPietro
still rehabbing from knee and hip injuries, GM Garth Snow shored up his goaltending over the summer with the signings of Roloson and Biron. It's one of the biggest reasons why the Isles are right in the mix in the Eastern Conference playoff race nearly two months into the season, and Roloson's performance is the lone reason why they left Toronto on Monday night with a victory.
"We're not going to kid ourselves … that game probably is not even close if not for his performance," New York coach Scott Gordon said.
Who's hot --
With four points on Monday, Briere now has 16 points (10 goals, 6 assists) in 17 games. Jeff Carter also scored twice, which gives him 9 goals and 12 assists in 21 contests. … After a rough start, Josh Bailey
has been tremendous lately for the Islanders, as their first-round draft choice from 2008 (No. 9) has goals in each of his last three games. Bailey's goal on Monday came in the final minute of overtime. With six goals this season, Bailey is just one shy of matching his total from his rookie season.
Injury report --
Flyers right wing Arron Asham (strained oblique muscle) is out 7-10 days, while Darroll Powe (hand/wrist) is day-to-day. Simon Gagne is out 4-6 weeks with a hernia and Blair Betts
is expected to miss four weeks with a dislocated right shoulder.
DiPietro will participate in his first full practice on Tuesday and is only a few weeks away from returning. He played in just five games last season. Islanders captain Doug Weight is out 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury. Radek Martinek is out for the season with a torn ACL.
Stat pack --
The 61 shots on goal the Islanders allowed were the most in the NHL this season. Roloson's 58 saves were a career-high for the 40-year-old.
Puck drop --
Wednesday provides another good measuring stick for the Islanders, who should have a huge crowd after a successful road trip. Hard to believe that the Isles -- who finished with the fewest points in the NHL last season (61) -- can actually pass the Flyers in the standings with a victory.