Flyers-Islanders Preview

The Associated Press

New York and Philadelphia are in unfamiliar territory as the end of the regular season approaches, with the Islanders in position to earn their first trip to the playoffs since 2007 and the Flyers trying to avoid their first postseason absence since that same year.

One thing that has remained the same, though, is the Flyers' dominance in this series.

Philadelphia looks to win its eighth straight on Long Island and earn at least one point for the 32nd time in 35 meetings when these Atlantic Division rivals face off Tuesday night.

New York (19-16-4) is holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while Philadelphia (17-18-3) is five points behind the Islanders.

These teams have not played since Saturday, when the Islanders beat Tampa Bay 4-2 at home and the Flyers lost 4-1 at Winnipeg.

Matt Martin scored the go-ahead goal with less than seven minutes left, and Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist to lead New York.

"We're working toward what we are trying to accomplish, and we still have a ways to go," said leading scorer John Tavares, who assisted on Bailey's goal. "We still have much we can do better. But we are excited to be in this position.

"This is big for the guys in the room because they are seeing results," said Tavares, who has 23 goals and 17 assists. "The steps we've been taking are paying off."

The Islanders are 6-1-1 in their last eight games.

"We battled hard and we continue to do little things well which bring big results," coach Jack Capuano said. "Our leadership is strong, and we are showing it."

The Flyers had their season-best four-game winning streak come to an end Saturday as they allowed four unanswered goals in a 6:28 span of the second period.

"I just think we shut it down for the second period," forward Wayne Simmonds said. "It wasn't the defense, it wasn't the goaltending, it was everybody."

Philadelphia had earned a point in five straight games and entered on a 5-2-2 surge.

"They played like they wanted it the last 40 minutes," forward Scott Hartnell said. "The last four games we played 60 minutes and tonight we didn't."

The Flyers certainly played 60 minutes in their two games against New York this season. In the last road matchup with the Islanders, they rolled to a 7-0 victory Feb. 18. In the last meeting March 28, Hartnell scored with 30 seconds left in regulation to help Philadelphia salvage a point in a 4-3 shootout loss.

That result gave the Flyers a 29-3-2 record in this series since the start of the 2007-08 season.

Evgeni Nabokov has a 4.46 goals-against average in his last four starts versus Philadelphia.

"As far as I'm concerned, we are in the playoffs," Nabokov told the Islanders' official website. "That's what this is for us. We have to keep rolling. The key here is we can't lose two or three in a row. We have to continue to find a way to get points."

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