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New York Islanders vs. Philadelphia Flyers @NHLdotcom
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GAME: New York Islanders (2-2-0) at Philadelphia Flyers (2-2-0).

TIME: Saturday, 7 p.m. EDT.

If not for Peter Forsberg and Simon Gagne, the Philadelphia Flyers would be in an early hole.

One night after avoiding a potentially devastating loss, the Flyers will look to ride the hot play of their top two scorers when they take on the visiting New York Islanders.

Forsberg and Gagne combined for eight points in Friday's 6-5 overtime win over Pittsburgh, a game in which Philadelphia held a 5-1 lead.

Forsberg, who signed with the Flyers after spending the previous nine seasons with the Colorado Avalanche franchise, had four assists, including one on Mike Rathje's winner in overtime.

Gagne had a pair of goals and two assists, and is tied with Forsberg for the team lead with nine points.

"He's the best player in the world," Gagne said of Forsberg. "He's amazing one-on-one. I just try to get open. I know at some point he will find me."

Considering how poorly they have played defensively, the Flyers are fortunate to have split their first four games. With their top two offensive players basically carrying the team, the Flyers have overcome their goaltenders' combined 3.98 goals-against average and .849 save percentage (90-for-106).

Robert Esche, who is expected to challenge for the starting nod for Team USA at the upcoming Turin Olympics, has allowed nine goals in two games. Antero Niittymaki, who created a goaltending controversy by making 26 saves in a 5-2 win over New Jersey on Oct. 7, was shaky against Pittsburgh, allowing five goals on 20 shots, including getting caught napping on a long wrister from the red line late in the third.

The Flyers have also had problems shutting down the opposition's power play, killing off just 72 percent of their man-down situations (18-for-25).

The Islanders are coming off their first road win of the season, 5-3 in Washington on Thursday. Jason Blake and rookie Petteri Nokelainen each had a goal and an assist and Oleg Kvasha added three assists.

Veteran goaltender Garth Snow made his first appearance of the season, replacing injured Rick DiPietro midway through the second period and got the win after stopping 13 of 14 shots.

"Guys have as much confidence in Garth as they do in Rick," forward Mark Parrish said. "(Garth) keeps those old bones limber on the bench, so he's ready."

Snow will start against the Flyers. DiPietro is day-to-day with a slight concussion after getting hit in the head by Jeff Halpern's leg while diving for a loose puck.

New York recalled Wade Dubielewicz from Bridgeport of the AHL to back up Snow. Dubielewicz, who is 1-1-1 with 6.33 goals-against average this season, had a win and a tie and 1.73 average with the Islanders in the 2003-04 season.

STANDINGS (through Oct. 13): Islanders - 4 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Atlantic Division. Flyers - 2 points, 5th place, 4 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Blake, 3 goals and 4 points; Brent Sopel and Kvasha, 3 assists; Janne Niinimaa, 10 PIM. Flyers - Gagne, 6 goals; Forsberg, 9 assists; Gagne and Forsberg, 9 points; three with 6 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 13): Islanders - Power play: 11.5 percent (3 for 26), 21st (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 90.6 percent (29 for 32), 6th (tied). Flyers - Power play: 5.3 percent (1 for 19), 30th. Penalty killing: 73.7 percent (14 for 19), 28th.

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - Snow (1-0-0, 0 SO, 1.94 GAA); Dubielewicz (no appearances). Flyers - Esche (0-2-0, 4.58); Niittymaki (2-0-0, 3.41).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 3-2-1.

LAST MEETING: April 4, 2004; Tied, 3-3. At Uniondale, N.Y., Alexei Yashin, Roman Hamrlik and Adrian Aucoin each had a goal and an assist for New York. Kim Johnsson, Jeremy Roenick and Keith Primeau scored for Philadelphia.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 1-1-0 on the road; Flyers - 2-1-0 at home.

Associated Press
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