Islanders-Flyers Preview

For much of the past five seasons, a date with the New York
Islanders essentially meant an automatic two points for the
Philadelphia Flyers.

Wins haven’t come so easily for the Flyers recently – against
the Islanders or anyone else.

Looking to recover from a poor February, the Flyers try to avoid
a third home loss to the Islanders in the past six weeks Thursday
night.

Philadelphia (34-21-7) won 24 of 26 games against New York from
2007-08 to the end of last season – including all 13 at the Wells
Fargo Center – and added two more victories on Long Island to begin
this season’s series.

But the Islanders (26-28-9) stopped their lengthy skid on Broad
Street with a 4-1 win Jan. 19 and came away with a 1-0 shootout
victory Feb. 7, performances indicative of the Flyers’ second-half
inconsistency. Philadelphia totaled 10 goals in a pair of wins on
its recent four-game road trip, but was shut out in the other two
contests.

The Flyers fell behind San Jose just 1:22 into Tuesday’s 1-0
loss – the eighth consecutive time they’ve allowed the first
goal.

“It’s tough when they score on the first shot,” center Claude
Giroux said. “We dug ourselves a hole, and it’s playing catch-up
again. We can’t be doing that all season. It’s going to kill us.
We’ve got to find a way to get a better start.”

The loss to the Sharks capped a 5-7-1 February which dropped the
Flyers from the third-most points in the Eastern Conference – just
three behind the East-leading New York Rangers – to sixth place, 11
back of the Rangers.

After starting 11-6-2 at home, Philadelphia has lost seven of 10
there – allowing at least five goals in four of those contests.

It shouldn’t expect a high-scoring game against the Islanders,
the East’s lowest-scoring team at 2.27 goals per game after netting
two or fewer in nine of their last 12.

New York blew a two-goal lead in the final four minutes Tuesday
night in Washington, falling 3-2 in overtime.

A regulation win would have pulled the Islanders within five
points of Winnipeg for the East’s eighth playoff spot. Instead, the
Jets were jumped by the Capitals, who are now eight clear of New
York.

“It’s unacceptable to give up a two-goal lead that late,” winger
Josh Bailey told the league’s official website. “Breakdowns are a
part of the game, but you certainly don’t expect the outcome to be
like that when you are up two goals.”

Bailey had a goal Tuesday but John Tavares was held off the
scoresheet, a likely indication the Islanders are in trouble.
They’re 20-12-3 when Tavares records a point and 6-16-6 when he
doesn’t.

Tavares has two goals and four assists in his last five versus
Philadelphia after a five-game drought without a point. Matt
Moulson, who leads New York with 27 goals, has only scored two in
his last 16 games against the Flyers.

Scott Hartnell leads Philadelphia with 30, and his finding the
back of the net has been critical for Peter Laviolette’s team. The
Flyers are 18-3-3 when Hartnell scores a goal, which he’s done in
his team’s last three wins against the Islanders while going
pointless in the two recent defeats.

Giroux, who is third in the league with 72 points, has been held
to two assists against New York this season and is a minus-6.