New York (13-14-1) at Philadelphia (17-4-3)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 68° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sat Dec 20, 2003
  • TV: Comc
Preview | Box Score | Recap

All of a sudden, the Philadelphia Flyers are struggling at home.

The New York Islanders’ road struggles have lasted all season.

Philadelphia looks to end a season-high five-game winless streak when it faces the Islanders for the third time this season.

The Flyers began this season unbeaten in their first 14 home games (12-0-2), but have gone 0-1-0-2 since. They are winless in their last five overall (0-1-2-2), but still sit atop the Atlantic Division.

Martin St. Louis scored the tying goal late in the third period and then 2:03 into overtime, lifting Tampa Bay to a 5-4 victory at Philadelphia on Thursday.

Tony Amonte, Jeremy Roenick and Michal Handzus each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who host the Islanders before opening an eight-game road trip Sunday against Atlanta.

“At times we are doing good things and at times we are doing bad things, that’s what is costing us right now,” Flyers forward Mark Recchi said. “We can be a lot better, and we have to be.”

One area where the Flyers can improve is their play in the game’s early stages. They have fallen behind 1-0 in 11 straight games, but have managed to go 4-2-3-2 in that span.

“We can’t worry about 60 minutes right now,” Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We have to focus on the start of the game. We have to have all hands on deck.”

Whenever the Flyers struggle, their goaltending is often viewed as the problem.

Jeff Hackett, the undisputed starter while Robert Esche recovers from a strained groin, has allowed 14 goals during a personal 0-3-2 skid and admits he is not at his best right now.

“Things are not going well now,” Hackett said. “I am working my hardest. I feel bad about what is going on. I am fighting it a little bit right now.”

The Islanders come in after failing to earn a point for the first time in six games, falling 4-3 to the archrival New York Rangers on Thursday.

Late goals by Radek Martinek and Dave Scatchard made the game appear closer than it actually was, but they couldn’t prevent the Islanders from having their winless skid on the road extended to five (0-4-0-1).

While the Islanders boast the NHL’s best third-period goals differential at 38-18, they are 0-13-1-0 in games which they’ve trailed after 40 minutes.

“It’s getting a little old. Playing good in the third period, that’s easy,” Islanders defenseman Adrian Aucoin said. “When you’re down by three goals, that’s easy out there. You’re not supposed to win anyway.”

New York has won just once in its last 11 road games (1-7-2-1) and twice all season.

STANDINGS (through Dec. 18): Islanders - 29 points, 4th place, 16 PB, Atlantic Division. Flyers - 45 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Trent Hunter, 12 goals; Aucoin, 16 assists; Mariusz Czerkawski and Alexei Yashin, 21 points; Eric Cairns, 88 PIM. Flyers - Recchi, 13 goals; Roenick, 17 assists and 29 points; Donald Brashear, 67 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Dec. 18): Islanders - Power play: 10.7 percent (13 for 121), 29th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.7 percent (116 for 137), 15th. Flyers - Power play: 23.4 percent (29 for 124), 2nd. Penalty killing: 86.0 percent (123 for 143), 8th.

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - Rick DiPietro (7-8-1, 1 SO, 2.35 GAA); Garth Snow (6-7-1, 1, 3.04). Flyers - Hackett (9-5-6, 3, 1.99); Antero Niittymaki (no appearances).

SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Nov. 29; Flyers, 5-1. At Uniondale, N.Y., John LeClair had a goal and an assist during Philadelphia’s five-goal second period.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 2-8-2-1 on the road; Flyers - 12-1-2-2 at home.

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