UPDATE 2:30 PM EDT
Steve Mason will get the start in goal tonight for the Flyers. Lineups have been updated below.
PREVIEW 11:00 PM EDT (4/8/13)
With 10 games remaining in 2013 regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers (17-18-3) find themselves five points out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. On Tuesday night, the Flyers will head to Long Island to take on the club currently occupying the eight seed: the New York Islanders (19-16-4). Game time is at 7 p.m. and the match will be televised on CSN Philadelphia.
This is the third of four meetings between the teams this season, and the second and final one in Nassau Coliseum.
In a Feb. 18 matinee on Long Island, the Flyers captured their most lopsided win of the season, pummeling the Isles by a 7-0 count.
The Islanders gained a measure of revenge in Philadelphia on March 28. The Flyers blew a 2-0 lead they took into the final minute of the second period and only a Scott Hartnell goal (his second of the game) in the last half-minute of the third period forced overtime and salvaged a point for the Flyers. However, the Islanders gained the game's second point from the post-overtime skills competition.
Philadelphia is coming off a 4-1 loss in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon. The Flyers, who were playing for the third time in three cities (Philadelphia, Toronto, Winnipeg) in less than four days, played a strong first period but could only muster a 1-0 lead. Ruslan Fedotenko, who has three goals and five points in the last five games, notched the lone Philadelphia goal. The wheels fell off in the second period, and the Jets blitzed the Flyers for four unanswered goals. Steve Mason made his debut for the Flyers in the third period, mopping up for starter Ilya Bryzgalov.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Flyers and knocked the club back below the .500 mark again on the season.
The Flyers will have to deal with an injury-depleted lineup, especially on the blueline, for the remainder of the season. The The team has lost defensemen Braydon Coburn (separated left shoulder) and Andrej Meszaros (torn left rotator cuff) for the season. It was revealed yesterday that Nicklas Grossmann's upper body injury is a concussion, and he suffered a setback last week. He remains out indefinitely.
Last game in Winnipeg, Luke Schenn missed several shifts after getting hit in the side of the helmet with a puck and sustaining a nasty gash over his right eye. He returned to the game and is OK apart from having received stitches to close the wound. Kimmo Timonen (lower-body injury) was a game-time decision in Winnipeg but played as expected. He is still at far less than 100 percent but will keep on going in the lineup.
Up front, Philly is without Max Talbot (broken left leg, out for the season) and Zac Rinaldo (high ankle sprain, out indefinitely). Danny Briere (concussion) remains out of the lineup and is not yet entirely symptom-free but participated in Monday's practice. There is a chance he could return by the weekend.
The Flyers' power play, which had been red hot and vaulted to the top spot in the NHL, has not been clicking the last few games. The team has dropped to 2nd in overall power play efficiency (23.2 percent), ranking 1st at home (a robust 29.8 percent) but 15th on the road (17.3 percent). Given that Philly has struggled at five-on-five all season regardless of venue, the dropoff in road power play efficiency is a significant part of the reason why the club is 12-5-2 at home but 5-13-1 away from the Wells Fargo Center.
Philly's power play has ripped apart the Islanders in the two games to date, punishing New York for four PPGs in six tries. In the first meeting, the Flyers went 2-for-4. Last time, Philadelphia converted on both of their opportunities.
In terms of penalty killing, the Flyers have hung tough despite all the key absences from the lineup. The Flyers rank sixth overall in penalty killing efficiency (84.7 percent), including a clip of 86.3 percent at home (11th) and 83.1 percent on the road (10th).
The Islanders enter the game ranked 9th overall on the power play at 21.2 percent and 18th at home (19.5 percent) . On the penalty kill, New York is ranked 18th overall (81.2 percent) and just 25th at home (78.0 percent).
In 5-on-5 play, the Flyers have been outscored by a margin of 62-79. The Islanders have had more offensive success but even more trouble keeping the puck out of their net, scoring 73 even strength goals while yielding 85.
Tallying all goals scored and allowed in all manpower situations, the Flyers have been outscored by a 106-118 margin this season. The Islanders have been outscored 113-119
The Islanders have gone 6-3-1 in their last 10 games. In their last game, the Islanders knocked off Tampa Bay by a 4-2 score. Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey, Matt Martin and Andy MacDonald (empty netter) tallied for the Islanders while Evgeni Nabokov faced just 21 shots for the game, stopping 19. New York star center John Tavares notched an assist in the game. He has two goals and four points in his last four games.
The Islanders are a relatively healthy team entering the game. Top line winger Matt Moulson has been dealing with the flu, but practiced yesterday. Defenseman Brian Strait (ankle injury) has resumed skating but is not yet ready to return to the lineup.
PROJECTED LINEUPS (Subject to change)
19 Scott Hartnell - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek
24 Matt Read - 10 Brayden Schenn - 17 Wayne Simmonds
37 Jay Rosehill - 14 Sean Couturier - 18 Adam Hall
12 Simon Gagne - 26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 9 Mike Knuble
44 Kimmo Timonen - 27 Bruno Gervais
38 Oliver Lauridsen - 22 Luke Schenn
23 Kent Huskins - 29 Erik Gustafsson
35 Steve Mason
[30 Ilya Bryzgalov]
26 Matt Moulson - 91 John Tavares - 24 Brad Boyes
12 Josh Bailey - 51 Frans Nielsen - 21 Kyle Okposo
40 Michael Grabner - 10 Keith Aucoin - 13 Colin McDonald
6 Jesse Joensuu - 53 Casey Cizikas - 17 Matt Martin
47 Andrew MacDonald - 3 Travis Hamonic
2 Mark Streit - 7 Matt Carkner
14 Thomas Hickey - 11 Lubomir Visnovsky
20 Evgeni Nabokov
[60 Kevin Poulin]
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