National Hockey League
Flyers-Islanders Preview
National Hockey League

Flyers-Islanders Preview

Updated Mar. 4, 2020 1:26 p.m. ET

The Philadelphia Flyers enter the regular season's last day finally with some clarity over their playoff fate.

The New York Islanders know they're in as well, though who they'll face and who they'll have available remain unanswered questions.

One piece of the puzzle will be solved in Sunday night's finale against a Philadelphia team gearing up for an opening-round matchup with the Presidents' Trophy winners.

The Flyers secured the Eastern Conference's final playoff berth with Saturday's 3-1 home victory over Pittsburgh, as that result combined with Boston's 6-1 loss to Ottawa set up a first-round series with league-best Washington. The win capped a remarkable second-half run in which Philadelphia (40-27-14) leapfrogged three teams by going 14-5-3 since Feb. 25.


''It's just the beginning for us,'' forward Jakub Voracek said. ''We can't be satisfied. We have a good enough team to beat Washington and we have to focus on that.''

New York (45-26-10) clinched a second straight postseason trip with Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Capitals, with its opponent determined by Sunday's outcome. A win would give the Islanders third place in the Metropolitan Division and a meeting with Pittsburgh. They'll face Atlantic Division champion Florida if they lose.

The Islanders lost three of four this season to the surging Penguins, who had an eight-game winning streak snapped by Philadelphia while resting Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang. New York dropped two of three to the Panthers, with one of the losses in a shootout.

The more immediate concern for coach Jack Capuano is getting his team healthy for the quarterfinals. New York will definitely be without Anders Lee due to a fractured fibula suffered in Thursday's 4-1 win over the Rangers, and goaltender Jaroslav Halak (groin) and defenseman Travis Hamonic (knee) remain uncertain for Game 1.

''I just want to make sure for me and this organization, we do the right thing so whoever we play next week that the guys are healthy going into the playoffs and we give them the best chance," Capuano said. "That's all we can do.''

With grinders Matt Martin and Cal Clutterbuck also sidelined by more minor injuries, the Islanders fielded a makeshift lineup in Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss to Buffalo that snapped a three-game winning streak. Alan Quine and Scott Mayfield recorded their first NHL goals, with Quine scoring short-handed in his NHL debut after being called up from the minors earlier in the day.

Thomas Greiss has shined filling in for Halak, winning four consecutive starts following a 36-save effort against the Rangers.

The Islanders do know they'll have John Tavares in top form for the first round. The captain scored in a fourth straight game Saturday to tie the contest with 6:26 left in regulation, giving him six goals and five assists over his last six.

Philadelphia's top goal scorer also is going well, with Wayne Simmonds amassing seven goals over his last seven after registering two Saturday.

With the Flyers' position set and Steve Mason having started 12 straight games, Michal Neuvirth will likely make his first start since March 16. The ex-Islander won four of five starts prior to missing the past 3 1/2 weeks with a knee injury.

Philadelphia has won the past two meetings, including a 4-1 victory at Barclays Center on March 21, after losing the first two this season. Captain Claude Giroux has three goals and an assist in the season series and six goals in the last seven matchups.

Tavares has been held without a point in three straight against Philadelphia.

Sunday's game is a makeup of a Jan. 23 contest postponed by a snowstorm.


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