UNIONDALE (AP) – The Philadelphia Flyers weren’t doing much with their power-play chances in their first eight games, but they’ve scored at least once with the man advantage in five consecutive wins.
That’s more bad news than the reeling New York Islanders need to hear.
Some late fisticuffs followed Philadelphia’s power-play success against the Islanders last week, and the emotion could carry over to Saturday night on Long Island as the Flyers seek a 20th win in the past 22 matchups.
Philadelphia (8-4-1) wasn’t doing anything consistently well through its first eight games, but the most glaring problem for coach Peter Laviolette’s club was a lack of scoring on the power play.
The Flyers got off to a 3-for-35 start (8.6 percent) with the man advantage, a far cry from a 21.5 percent success rate last season that was third-best in the NHL.
They’re quickly moving up those rankings once again. Philadelphia has converted nine of 28 chances in winning its past five games, getting power-play goals from Mike Richards and Chris Pronger in a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers on Thursday.
“I think first and foremost we’re getting more traffic, or we’re moving the puck around quicker,” Pronger told the Flyers’ official website. “You can’t stay stagnant – otherwise you don’t make the box move and you don’t create openings.”
Claude Giroux’s emergence has certainly helped. He has four goals – three on the power play – and five assists during Philadelphia’s winning streak, which Saturday could hit six for the first time since Nov. 15-26, 2008.
Pronger scored twice with the man advantage in a 6-1 home win over the Islanders (4-7-2) last Saturday that had to look like a painful rerun to New York. Philadelphia has gone 28 for 78 (35.9 percent) on the power play in posting a 19-2-0 mark in the last 21 meetings.
Six of Scott Hartnell’s 11 goals and four of Jeff Carter’s 12 have come when the Flyers have been a man up.
There could be some additional fireworks in this meeting, a week after the teams combined for 120 penalty minutes and six 10-minute misconducts – one of which got Philadelphia’s Danny Briere suspended for three games. He earned a cross-checking major for his hit on center Frans Nielsen with one minute remaining in the third period.
A few minutes earlier, Islanders forward Trevor Gillies was hit with a triple roughing minor for trying to fight defenseman Braydon Coburn. That came shortly after Philadelphia’s Dan Carcillo and New York’s Zenon Konopka squared off.
Briere will serve the final game of his ban Saturday, a suspension he says he was “shocked” was more than one game. Briere didn’t sound especially pleased with the way New York reacted to being down five goals.
“When you get embarrassed like that, there’s lots of frustration,” Briere said. “They didn’t like that and had to respond some way, somehow. They did it with their fists.”
The embarrassment has continued for the Islanders. They’ve been outscored 29-11 during a skid that hit six with a 4-1 loss at Ottawa on Thursday.
“We’ve got to just turn the page and focus on bouncing back,” said center John Tavares, who has a team-high six goals but just one assist in four games. “We can’t be too down on ourselves for too long. We’ve got to find a way to get ourselves out of this hole and move on and get back on track.”
New York last lost seven straight Jan. 23-Feb. 6.
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