Islanders-Flyers Preview

The New York Islanders haven’t been at their best at home, but

their play on the road has them eying what could be their first

playoff berth in six years.

The Philadelphia Flyers continue to spiral out of contention,

and are in danger of missing out on the postseason for the first

time in six years.

New York looks to win a fourth straight road game and send the

Flyers to a fourth straight loss Thursday night in

Philadelphia.

The Islanders (15-15-3) trail the New York Rangers by two points

for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference despite squandering

most opportunities at Nassau Coliseum to make up ground in the

standings. They suffered a 7-0 home loss to Philadelphia on Feb. 18

– their 29th defeat in the last 33 meetings – and their six home

wins are the third-fewest in the league.

New York has been much better away from Nassau Coliseum, going

9-4-1, with wins in five of its last six. The power play has been

much better on the road, scoring on an NHL-best 29.7 percent of

chances compared to 18.8 in Uniondale.

New York, which last made the playoffs in 2007, won 3-2 at

Washington on Tuesday in the first stop on a four-game trip. After

blowing a 2-0 lead, Matt Moulson registered his 100th career

assist, finding John Tavares for the game-winner with less than six

minutes remaining. Moulson has nine assists over his last nine

games, and Tavares ranks second in the league with 20 goals.

“It was a big road win, and a great way to start the road trip,”

Tavares told the team’s official website. “It’s great, but the

focus has to be on the next one. It’s one game at a time, and we

need as many wins as we can get here.”

Things continue to sour for Philadelphia (13-17-2), which has

dropped three in a row and seven of nine after a 5-2 home loss to

the Rangers on Tuesday. The Flyers are seven points back of the

Rangers, and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007

seems realistic with 16 games remaining.

Third-period play continues to be a major issue as they’re being

outscored 36-21 on the season. Philadelphia is 1-11-0 when trailing

after two periods.

“Our third periods have not been a period where we’ve exercised

a comeback or even put games away,” coach Peter Laviolette said.

“It’s been something that’s bit us this year.”

The Flyers also suffered another injury hit on Wednesday with

general manager Paul Holmgren announcing that defenseman Andrej

Meszaros was placed on injured reserve after he re-aggravated the

left shoulder that already kept him out for over a month earlier

this season. Philadelphia announced two days earlier that Danny

Briere was out indefinitely with a concussion.

The Islanders will try to corral Claude Giroux, who has 21

points in his last 15 games against New York. Giroux and Briere

each had two goals and an assist in last month’s meeting.