Isles, Flyers both aiming for bounce-back efforts (Jan 04, 2018)

BY AP • January 4, 2018

PHILADELPHIA -- After suffering identical 5-1 home losses on Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders should be playing with some added intensity when they meet Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers (16-15-8) allowed four second-period goals by the Pittsburgh Penguins in their lopsided defeat, their fourth loss in five games.

"It was a good chance to kind of make a statement and get back in the standings," Flyers center Sean Couturier told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "We lost that chance, but at the same time, there are 40-some games left (43, to be exact). Lots of hockey left."

The Islanders (20-16-4) surrendered three third-period goals to the Boston Bruins in their blowout loss, their third defeat in a row. Thursday marks the halfway mark in their season.

"We have a good team and I told the guys that," Islanders coach Doug Weight told reporters on Wednesday. "You're going to go through these things. It's time for our group to lose the frailty. We have to come out of this. We have to come out fighting and put in a great gritty effort (Thursday)."

Both teams have struggled on the penalty kill this season. The Islanders rank 30th in the NHL; the Flyers rank 29th. The Flyers surrendered a pair of power-play goals against the Penguins on Tuesday night.

Both teams are also hurting themselves with slow starts. The Flyers have led after the first period just once in the last 19 games. The Isles have scored first 14 times this season and are 13-1-0 when they do. But they are 7-15-4 when they allow the opening goal and they have allowed more first-period goals (46) than any team in the NHL.

It will be interesting to see if Brian Elliott or Michal Neuvirth will start for the Flyers. Elliott has played in 14 straight games and was replaced by Neuvirth after allowing four goals on 13 shots by the Penguins. Neuvirth allowed a power-play goal and made 10 saves in his first game action since Nov. 28.

The Flyers are also keeping a close eye on defenseman Ivan Provorov, who blocked a shot on the inside of his left skate and was sent for X-rays after Tuesday night's loss. Provorov, who was on the ice for all four Penguins goals on Tuesday, practiced Wednesday and is expected to play.

Defensemen Johnny Boychuk, sidelined by a lower-body injury, practiced with Islanders on Wednesday but is questionable for Thursday.

"He looked good," Weight said. "You miss him and Cal (Calvin de Haan, shoulder, indefinite), it's close to 50 minutes of ice time per night. It's been evident the last few games. I would be hopeful as a coach to see him in Philly, but we haven't gone down that road to that point yet."

Both teams need to make up ground in the Metro Division, where the Flyers are 1-1-4 this season. The Isles are just 5-9-2 in their last 16 games.

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