GAME 45: FLYERS vs. ISLANDERS
Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (20-18-6) are home on Sunday evening to host Barry Trotz's New York Islanders (27-13-4). Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 6:30 p.m. EDT. The game will be televised on NBCSP.
This is the eighth and final meeting of the season series between the teams. The Flyers are 3-1-3 against the Islanders this season, with five of the seven games to date going beyond regulation.
Sunday's game marks the Flyers' edition of NHL's leaguewide annual "Hockey Fights Cancer Night". During warmups, the Flyers players will wear their purple Hockey Fights Cancer jerseys as they do once per season. Other highlights of the night include tributes to Flyers' left winger Oskar Lindblom, who successfully battled Ewing's Sarcoma a year ago. Tony Campisi, a local 17-year-old hockey player battling cancer for the second time, will serve as an honorary Flyers coach and read off the starting lineup in the locker room before the team takes to the ice. Everyone will receive "I Fight For..." placards, which can be filled out with the name of someone close to the recipient who has dealt with cancer.
Additionally, Flyers Charities will announce partnerships with Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Philadelphia Region and Bringing Hope Home, including $25,000 grants to each organization. The local Tri-State Toyota Dealers will present a donation to local organization CANCER WHO, including a special acknowledgment in-game.
The Flyers enter this game coming off a 6-3 home loss
to the Washington Capitals on Saturday afternoon. The Flyers twice erased one-goal deficits (1-0, 2-1) and later cut a 4-2 deficit to a single goal but Washington inevitably had a quick response. As Vigneault described it after the game, Philadelphia was "second on everything" as they lost too many battles and were too porous defensively to withstand the relentless attack. The Capitals were sloppy themselves at times, but the Flyers weren't nearly as opportunistic as their opponent.
Carter Hart was the scheduled starter in goal on Saturday. He was a late scratch due to a lower-body injury. Apparently, Hart sustained a minor injury late in Thursday's 2-1 shootout win in Pittsburgh. He practiced normally on Friday but, on Saturday morning, the issue bothered him again enough that he was unable to play.
Alex Lyon was pressed in starting duty. He stopped 35 of 40 shots. Two power play one-timers by Alex Ovechkin, two deflection goals (one accidentally deflected by Travis Konecny, the other a high-tip by Connor Sheary) and a goal in which the Flyers were collectively caught flat-footed in their own zone and Evgeny Kuznetsov walked in to beat Lyon represented the goal-scoring damage. Anthony Mantha added a late empty-netter for the final 6-3 margin.
Brian Elliott was originally slated to rest on Saturday after skating on his own in Voorhees during the morning. When Hart went down, Elliott was summoned from the Skate Zone to come to the Wells Fargo Center to dress as Lyon's backup. Elliott will get the start on Sunday.
Wade Allison's first career NHL goal, a power play slam dunk and the end of great passing sequence from Claude Giroux to Kevin Hayes to the eventual goal-scorer, was the most memorable positive moment for the Flyers from Saturday's game. Philadelphia also got goals from Ivan Provorov -- a first period buzzer beater at 19:59 --- and a breakaway tally by James van Riemsdyk that ended a 15-game goal drought.
Nolan Patrick, who got on the side of his head near his ear by a rising shot by teammate Phil Myers during Thursday's game in Pittsburgh, was held out of Saturday's game at the recommendation of Jim McCrossin. His availability for this game against the Islanders was unknown as of late afternoon yesterday.
Tanner Laczynski sustained a lower-body injury in Pittsburgh on Thursday. He did not practice on Friday and did not play against the Capitals. Carsen Twarynski and Nicolas Aube-Kubel (returning to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Pittsburgh) started in the lineup spots vacated by Patrick and Laczynski, with Claude Giroux moving back to center.
Samuel Morin returned to the lineup on Saturday, after sitting out on Thursday. Vigneault said that Morin's two recent scratchings were not performance-based but, rather, were due to the compacted game schedule and the player's ongoing workload maintenance program after two ACL surgeries. Robert Hägg was scratched on Saturday with both Morin and Myers in the lineup.
The Flyers have added 2019 first-round pick Cam York to their Taxi Squad, due to the current COVID-19 related uncertainty about when the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms can resume their schedule. Each of the last four Phantoms games, including two this weekend, have been postponed.
The Islanders are 18-2-2 on home ice this season (their first regulation loss was at the hands of the Flyers) but 9-11-2 on the road. The team has been playing middling hockey of late, losing back-to-back games heading into this one and posting a 5-5-0 record over the last 10. Nonetheless, due to the team's stellar home record, Trotz's club can potentially jump back into second place in the East Division and back within two points of the Capitals if New York defeats the Flyers today.
On Friday night, the visiting Islanders were blanked, 3-0, by the Boston Bruins. Boston put up a picket fence on the scoreboard, with David Pastrnak scoring in the first period, new acquisition Taylor Hall tallying in the second and new Bruin Curtis Lazar tacking on an empty-net goal. Rookie Jeremy Swayman recorded a 25-save shutout at the Islanders' expense while Ilya Sorokin stopped 25 of 27 shots in a losing cause.
Acquired for blueline depth by the Islanders, former longtime Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn is serving his mandatory post-border crossing COVID-19 quarantine period after being traded by the Ottawa Senators to the Islanders.
Longtime Flyers nemesis Cal Clutterbuck may be unavailable for this game due to injury, along with playmaking forward Josh Bailey. Both missed Friday's game. Clutterbuck missed several shifts in the third period of Thursday's game against Boston after his head appeared to strike the boards on a hit from defenseman Charlie McAvoy. He finished the game but was scratched on Friday and his availability to play the Flyers is uncertain. Bailey, whose injury nature is undisclosed, saw a consecutive games played streak end at 196.
Team captain Anders Lee was lost for the season in March due to an ACL tear.
28 Claude Giroux -14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
86 Joel Farabee - 13 Kevin Hayes - 57 Wade Allison
25 James van Riemsdyk - 21 Scott Laughton - 11 Travis Konecny
23 Oskar Lindblom - 81 Carsen Twarynski - 62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel
9 Ivan Provorov - 61 Justin Braun
6 Travis Sanheim - 6 Robert Hägg
55 Samuel Morin - 53 Shayne Gostisbehere
37 Brian Elliott
[34 Alex Lyon]
PP1: Giroux, Farabee, Konecny, Voracek, Gostisbehere.
PP2: Farabee, Couturier, Hayes, JVR, Provorov.
Scratches: 5 Phil Myers (healthy), 79 Carter Hart (lower body), 58 Tanner Laczynski (lower body), 19 Nolan Patrick (upper body).
Injured reserve: 48 Morgan Frost (shoulder surgery).
COVID-19 protocol: None.
13 Mathew Barzal - 14 Travis Zajac - 7 Jordan Eberle
28 Michael Dal Colle - 29 Brock Nelson - 21 Kyle Palmieri
18 Anthony Beauvillier - 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau - 26 Oliver Wahlstrom
17 Matt Martin - 53 Casey Cizikas - 47 Leo Komarov
3 Adam Pelech - 6 Ryan Pulock
2 Nick Leddy - 24 Scott Mayfield
45 Braydon Coburn - 4 Andy Greene
30 Ilya Sorokin
[40 Semyon Varlamov]
PP 1: Barzal, Nelson, Eberle, Pulock, Leddy
PP 2: Pageau, Beauvillier, Palmieri, Wahlstrom, Dobson
Scratches: 8 Noah Dobson (healthy), 12 Josh Bailey (day-to-day),15 Cal Clutterbuck (day-to-day), 25 Sebastian Aho (healthy), 32 Ross Johnston (healthy).
Injured reserve: 27 Anders Lee (ACL surgery).
COVID-19 protocol: None.