ONCE UPON A TIME, the New York Islanders couldn’t buy a win in Philadelphia.
They went 4 straight seasons - a span of 3 coaches - at the Wells Fargo Center (0-13-0) without as much as a single point in overtime or a shootout.
Tonight, the Islanders – with nemesis Evgeni Nabokov in net – are shooting for a season-series sweep against the Flyers in Philly.
That’s not a misprint. Remember these two clunkers from earlier in the season?
Jan. 19: 4-1 loss – Islanders score all 4 kids of goals (even strength, power play, short-handed, empty-net).
Feb. 7: 1-0 shootout loss – Nabokov stopped all 45 shots, and an additional two in the shootout, after the Flyers allowed just 18 on Ilya Bryzgalov.
Nabokov has simply had the Flyers’ number this season. His save percentage is a staggering .963 against the Flyers this season with a 1.30 goals against-average. He’s 2-1-0 against the Flyers and 13-14-1 against the rest of the NHL.
Nabokov will be opposed by Bryzgalov, who is making his 6th straight start.
Naturally, the Flyers’ overwritten poor home record this season (14 wins in 29 games) was a topic of conversation at the morning skate. They desperately need the points, though, as they can climb over idle Ottawa into the 5th spot in the East with a win. With a loss and a New Jersey win, the Flyers will drop to 7th.
BRIERE CHANGE OF HEART: It must have been the heat of the moment.
But with the help of video, a day’s worth of contemplation and a non-ruling from Brendan Shanahan, Flyers forward Danny Briere viewed his hit from the Sharks’ Marc-Edouard Vlasic a little bit differently on Thursday.
“I thought it was worse when I was on the ice, when it happened, than when I saw it on the video,” Briere said after the Flyers’ morning skate. “It wasn’t as hard as I thought originally, it’s probably what saved me.”
As such, Briere luckily avoided a concussion on the head-first hit, and he will be back in the Flyers’ lineup against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center in their first game back in Philadelphia after a 10-day road trip.
“Luckily, I don’t think I ran into the boards too hard,” Briere said. “Sometimes, I think … it’s more important of how awkward you run into the boards. It did look bad. But somehow, I was able to roll. I’m not so sure it’s the best way to go – to tuck your chin in. But I feel fortunate to escape with nothing too major.”
Briere was still disappointed that there was no call on the play, which could have brought a two-minute boarding penalty with 4:52 left and the Flyers down by a goal.
“I was surprised that nothing was called, but the whole game, they let us play,” Briere said. “It was just one of those games. I thought it was pretty fair for both sides. It would been nice to have the power play there, but sometimes refs don’t have the luxury of video.”
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