Flyers-Islanders Preview

The Associated Press

The Philadelphia Flyers have been hot of late, largely due to the exceptional play of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

His history against the New York Islanders hasn't been as good, however.

Bryzgalov will likely be in net as he seeks a franchise-record fourth consecutive shutout when Philadelphia looks for its sixth straight victory at Nassau Coliseum on Thursday night.

The Flyers (40-22-7) are chasing Pittsburgh for the fourth seed and home-ice advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, keeping pace by winning six of their last seven games.

Bryzgalov tied John Vanbiesbrouck's franchise mark set in 1999 with his third straight shutout Tuesday, beating New Jersey 3-0 with a 17-save effort. He's won his last six starts with a 0.82 goals-against average and four shutouts.

Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Danny Briere scored Tuesday, and coach Peter Laviolette lauded his team for its all-around play.

"Our goaltender was outstanding," Laviolette said. "I guess every game is different, and (Tuesday) was a complete effort you'd like to see us build on and continue down that road."

Philadelphia has scored only three goals in its last four road games, though it has gone 2-2-0 by winning a pair of 1-0 games, thanks to Bryzgalov.

"Goaltending is everything when it comes to hockey," Laviolette said. "There's a lot of things that have to go right, but when that constant is between the pipes it gives you a chance to win every game. The teams that stay at the top of the conference have solid goaltending."

Bryzgalov's hot stretch began with a 6-3 home win over the Islanders on March 1, but it marked his first career victory against them in five starts. He's 1-1-1 versus New York with a 3.34 GAA, and he was pulled in the other two outings.

The Flyers have history on their side having won 12 of the last 13 on Long Island, including two matchups this season against the struggling Islanders.

New York (28-31-11) has lost four straight, scoring the initial goal in its last three. It took a 3-0 lead midway through the second period, only to squander it in a 5-4 shootout loss to Washington on Tuesday.

John Tavares, who had two goals and an assist and added a goal in the shootout, said the Islanders need to figure out the issue quickly.

"We've got to be better when we have a lead," said Tavares, whose second goal gave him a career-high 30. "It's hard to pinpoint the problem, but that's three games in a row."

Coach Jack Capuano said it boils down to turnovers and bad decisions when his squad has played with the lead.

"They battle, and then some of the decisions they make, it costs them," Capuano said. "It's happened the last couple games to us. That's the big thing."

Tavares has been one of the few bright spots during the skid, netting four goals and adding two assists. He had a goal in a 3-2 loss to the Flyers on Jan. 12, then finished with two assists in a 4-1 victory in Philadelphia exactly one week later.

Claude Giroux, who trails Evgeni Malkin and Steven Stamkos for the NHL points lead, had three assists in the last meeting.

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