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Surging Flyers host slumping Islanders

by Sean McCullen

ISLANDERS (8-12-3) at FLYERS (9-10-2)


Last 10: New York 3-7-0; Philadelphia 6-2-2

Season series: This is the second of four games between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers won 5-2 on Long Island on Oct. 26, when center Vincent Lecavalier had a hat trick, his first with the Flyers.

Big story: The Flyers are playing much better in November than in October. They're 6-2-2 this month after finishing the season's opening month at 3-8-0.

The good news for the Flyers is captain Claude Giroux, the team's leader in points each of the past three seasons, has scored twice in the past six games after opening the season without a goal in 15 games. Philadelphia will attempt to sweep its three-game homestand against an Islanders team that has dropped six in a row on the road.

Team Scope:

Islanders: New York lost 4-3 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday on a late goal by Sidney Crosby. The Islanders had rallied to get even after falling behind 3-1 but lost for the fourth time in six games.

Coach Jack Capuano will likely focus his efforts on special teams. New York was 0-for-6 on the power play, and the Islanders' League-worst penalty-killers allowed two goals on four chances.

"It's our job to prepare [the players] to work," he said after the game Friday. "I always judge teams by their work ethic, and our team's tonight was there. We outshot them, we outhit them, we had blocked shots. Our goalie played well enough to give us a chance.

"Special teams [stunk], and we made a mental error on the last goal."

Flyers: Philadelphia beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Thursday to improve to 5-0-1 in its past six games. Steve Mason will likely be back in goal after Ray Emery got the start against Buffalo. He feels it's important for the Flyers to maintain a one-game-at-a-time approach.

"We had a good road trip and to be able to come home with some pretty solid play so far and have that continue on is what we needed to get ourselves back in the playoff picture, and you know we're slowly achieving that goal," Mason, who is 6-7-2 with a 2.12 goals-against average and .932 save percentage, told the Flyers website. "I think it's almost more important to stay even-keeled now than it was when things were not going so well."

Who's hot: Islanders left wing Thomas Vanek scored twice in the second period against Pittsburgh after missing five games with an upper-body injury. He has three goals in seven games with the Islanders since coming to New York from Buffalo in a trade on Oct. 27. … Flyers forward Matt Read scored twice in a decisive second period against Buffalo, giving him six goals on the season. Steve Downie, whom the Flyers acquired in an Oct. 31 trade with the Colorado Avalanche, assisted on both goals.

Injury report: Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov (groin) and defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and Brian Strait (upper body) are out. … Flyers defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion) has not yet played this season. Philadelphia is otherwise healthy.

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