The New York Islanders already have two home losses this season to the Philadelphia Flyers. Another defeat to the league-worst Flyers would be very disappointing for a team beginning to build momentum.
The Islanders look to stretch their season-high point streak to eight games Wednesday when they face the Flyers at Nassau Coliseum.
Despite missing several injured starters, the Islanders (25-21-7) are enjoying their best stretch of season with points in seven straight games (4-0-3). They have moved from 13th in the Eastern Conference to 10th.
To continue that streak, they will have to end a four-game home losing streak to the Flyers. Philadelphia has a pair of 3-2 wins on Long Island this season, and is 14-3-1 with one tie in its last 19 visits there.
The only other team to lose to the Flyers (13-32-7) more than once this season is the Atlanta Thrashers, whom Philadelphia beat 5-2 on Saturday to record a point for the fourth consecutive game.
Each of the Islanders’ last three defeats have come after they played to a tie in regulation.
“It’s tough when you lose that extra point,” coach Ted Nolan said. “The shootout is more of a skills competition. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t.”
Although captain Alexei Yashin is still nursing knee tendinitis and not expected to return Wednesday, the Islanders could get back injured defensemen Tom Poti and Bruno Gervais. Poti, sidelined the last four games with back spasms, is more likely to return.
“We’re hoping,” Nolan said. “It’s still day-to-day on both of them, but hopefully by then, that day-to-day stuff will be over and they’ll be in the lineup.”
Also missing from New York’s lineup Wednesday will be defenseman Radek Martinek, who broke his left leg Saturday at Montreal and will be out four-to-six weeks.
Right wing Trent Hunter has been the Islanders’ most consistent producer of late with five goals and four assists during a seven-game point streak.
Philadelphia is on pace for the worst season in franchise history despite going 2-0-2 last week, including two road wins over the Southeast Division-leading Thrashers.
Though they’ve only won two of their last 13 games—both in Atlanta—the Flyers say they’ve played better in the last six games, when they have only one loss in regulation.
“It’s a matter of how we play. We believe in what we’re doing out there,” captain Peter Forsberg said. “It’s just one game tonight, but especially in the last six games I really think we’re believing in what we’re doing. We know the system is working better and we know we can play with any team.”
Although his name is swirling in numerous trade rumors, Forsberg hasn’t let that affect his play. He has three goals and 14 assists in his last 12 games overall, but just one point in his last six against the Islanders.
DiPietro has won three of his last four starts against the Flyers. He made 29 saves in a 4-2 victory at Philadelphia on Jan. 18.