Islanders Face Conference-Leading Flyers
(AP) — Despite having lost two of three games, the Philadelphia Flyers maintain a strong hold on the Eastern Conference’s top spot.
A win against the conference leader would add a signature victory to the New York Islanders’ recent hot streak.
Philadelphia looks to continue its recent dominance against visiting New York as the Atlantic Division foes meet Thursday night.
The Flyers (39-15-6) are 13-2-1 versus the Atlantic, the best record of any NHL team against its own division. It includes a 3-0-0 mark against the Islanders this season.
Philadelphia has won 18 of 19 against the Islanders, outscoring them 66-35 during that stretch.
“Well I think it’s more about when you play against teams that you play a lot, it’s a lot easier to get motivated,” forward Claude Giroux told the team’s official website. “I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job to get ready for those games and obviously our record shows that.”
Giroux scored his 21st goal Tuesday in a 3-2 overtime loss against Phoenix. He leads the team with 55 points and has goals in back-to-back games after going scoreless in eight straight.
Coach Peter Laviolette praised Giroux and seemed happy with the Flyers’ effort despite the loss.
“I’m happy with the way he’s playing,” Laviolette said. “He was terrific. I think we fired 75 to 80 shots on the net. It was just one of those nights where it didn’t seem to go in. We felt like we earned two points and were lucky to get one.”
Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves but lost his second straight start. He’s gone 2-3-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average in February after going 6-0-0 with a 1.83 GAA in January.
Bobrovsky has won all three meetings against the Islanders with a 1.33 GAA. He received plenty of help from his offense in those matchups, as Philadelphia has outscored New York 11-4.
However, the Islanders have been scoring much more of late.
New York (23-31-7) fell 2-1 to Toronto on Tuesday, but it marked the first time the Islanders were held to less than three goals since being shut out by St. Louis on Feb. 2.
Since that loss to the Blues, the Islanders have gone 7-3-0 while scoring 42 goals in that stretch. Matt Moulson scored his team-high 27th goal Tuesday, giving him six in the last three games.
Moulson, who scored in a 2-1 loss to the Flyers on Nov. 6, had two goals Saturday against Los Angeles and recorded his first hat trick since Dec. 3, 2009, on Monday against Florida.
Al Montoya, who became the NHL-high sixth goaltender to start for New York this season when he got the nod Saturday against the Kings, made 23 saves Tuesday against the Maple Leafs. It was his first loss in five appearances and is 3-1-0 with a 1.42 GAA.
The Islanders have lost 11 straight in Philadelphia since a 4-2 victory April 7, 2007.
Updated February 23, 2011
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