Islanders vie for home-and-home sweep of Flyers (Nov 24, 2017)
PHILADELPHIA -- After working overtime to grab a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday and enjoying some turkey the following day, the New York Islanders travel 90 minutes down the New Jersey Turnpike on Friday in a bid to a home-and-home sweep of their Metropolitan Division rival.
Josh Bailey assisted on two of the Islanders' three goals in regulation, then converted a pass from captain John Tavares in overtime to provide the Isles (12-7-2) with the margin of victory Wednesday night in Brooklyn.
Through 21 games, Bailey leads the Islanders in assists (21) and points (26) and is on pace for 102 points, well above his career-high 56 total last season.
"He's turning into an upper echelon player in front of our eyes," Islanders coach Doug Weight told Newsday after Wednesday night's win.
Bailey credited Tavares for pushing him into the post-game spotlight. Tavares won an intense one-on-one battle with Flyers center Sean Couturier to find him for the game-winner just 32 seconds into overtime.
"That's all him," Bailey said of Tavares, who leads the Islanders in goals (15). "He's earned that respect, where you don't really need to go in and help him out. You just kind of sit back and wait for your opening and you know he's going to find it, just like he did."
The Flyers (8-9-5) are hoping a return to their own building will help snap them out of a six-game losing skid (0-3-3). Only the Ottawa Senators have lost more games beyond regulation this season than the Flyers, who have also dropped six of their last seven home games.
"Obviously, we want to be a good team at home," said Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who is tied with Couturier for second on the team with 23 points in 22 games.
"We want to be a tough team to play in our building. We're pressing a little too much right now. We want it a little too much. Just got to go out there and play hockey."
A lack of secondary scoring and an inept penalty kill has been the Flyers' downfall in recent games. Second-line right winger Wayne Simmonds has gone 14 games without a goal and third-line right winger Travis Konecny has played 12 without one. They've also allowed eight power-play goals in their last four games.
"The individual skill in this league is through the roof," Simmonds told the South Jersey Courier-Post. "Guys are going to make plays, especially when they're a man up. The best form of penalty kill is not to be in the box at all."
Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere has been a guilty party lately, taking two costly penalties in his past three games.
"Everybody goes through different struggles," coach Dave Hakstol said. "There's a growing role for everybody. Right now, Ghost is one of the elder statesmen on the back end there. Sometimes that has a way of putting a little more weight on your shoulders, but I just think it's a stretch that he's going to get through."
Friday's game will mark the home debut of rookie forward Danick Martel and defenseman Samuel Morin, each of whom made his season debut on Wednesday night. Martel added speed to the lineup, while the 6-foot-6 Morin provided a strong physical presence.