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Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Islanders @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Philadelphia Flyers (40-21-14-6) at New York Islanders (38-29-10-4).

TIME: Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT.

So much for getting some rest before the playoffs.

Faced with a virtual must-win situation if they want home-ice in the first round, the Philadelphia Flyers conclude the regular season against the playoff-bound New York Islanders.

The Flyers are in this position because the New Jersey Devils pulled into a tie atop the Atlantic Division with Saturday's 5-2 win in Boston. Since New Jersey owns the tiebreaker over Philadelphia, the Flyers need to come up with more points Sunday than the Devils, who conclude their season at home against Boston.

If the Flyers lose Sunday, they will be the sixth seed in the conference and will open the playoffs at New Jersey. If the Flyers win the division, they will host the Devils in the first round.

Philadelphia made life difficult for itself by losing 3-1 to Ottawa on Friday, its third defeat in its last four games.

"I thought we played better than we did (Wednesday) and we won (Wednesday)," Flyers captain Keith Primeau said. "It's more important for us to be playing well going into the playoffs."

One player who needs to turn things up a notch is Mark Recchi. The 36-year-old left wing, who leads the Flyers in goals and assists, has not scored in 10 games and has eight assists in that span.

Thanks to the Montreal Canadiens, the Flyers will catch a break Sunday as the Islanders have nothing to play for. Montreal's 6-3 win over Buffalo on Saturday clinched the seventh spot for the Canadiens and kept New York in eighth.

However, the Islanders are still a tough team to deal with at Nassau Coliseum. New York is tied with Dallas with 25 wins at home this season, one behind NHL leader Detroit.

New York clinched its third straight appearance in the playoffs with Friday's 6-4 win at Carolina. The Islanders, who have won eight of their last 11 games, will open the postseason at top-seeded Tampa Bay next week.

"I'm happy, but more important I'm happy for the 24 guys in that room," coach Steve Stirling said. "They didn't need to hear from anybody that they backed in, or didn't get in. They needed to win their way in and they did."

Alexei Yashin had his first impressive game since returning from a severe right wrist laceration that forced him to miss 35 games, recording a goal and two assists. He has two goals and six assists in his last 13 games.

STANDINGS: Flyers - 100 points, 1st place (tied), Atlantic Division. Islanders - 90 points, 3rd place, 10 PB, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Flyers - Recchi, 26 goals, 49 assists and 75 points; Donald Brashear, 212 PIM. Islanders - Trent Hunter and Mariusz Czerkawski, 25 goals; Oleg Kvasha, 35 assists; Hunter, 51 points; Eric Cairns, 189 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 2): Flyers - Power play: 21.0 percent (65 for 310), 2nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (289 for 344), 16th (tied). Islanders - Power play: 15.9 percent (51 for 321), 17th (tied). Penalty killing: 85.4 percent (303 for 355), 5th.

GOALTENDERS: Flyers - Robert Esche (21-11-6, 3 SO, 2.02 GAA); Sean Burke (16-20-7, 2, 2.73). Islanders - Rick DiPietro (23-18-5, 5, 2.36); Garth Snow (14-15-5, 1, 2.80).

SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 3-2.

LAST MEETING: March 25; Islanders, 4-2. At Philadelphia, rookie goalie Wade Dubielewicz came off the bench and stopped all 14 shots, and Adrian Aucoin scored twice for the Islanders. John LeClair and Michal Handzus scored for the Flyers.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Flyers - 16-10-11-3 on the road; Islanders - 25-11-3-1 at home.

Associated Press
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