Flyers overcome awful start, eye Rangers (and Penguins)

    The Flyers overcame an awful first period and outlasted the host New York Islanders Saturday, 3-2, and took a major step toward securing the Eastern Conference's No. 4 seed _ and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

    Power-play goals by Joffrey Lupul and Mike Knuble, along with an even-strength tally by Simon Gagne, sparked the Flyers. Marty Biron played solidly and notched his 12th straight win against the Isles.

    The Flyers are now 31-8-7 when they score at least one power-play goal in a game.

    The win, coupled with Carolina's narrow loss in New Jersey, guaranteed the Flyers of either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed.

    Sizzling Pittsburgh concluded its regular season by defeating Montreal on Saturday night, assuring that the Pens and Flyers will meet in the first round.

    The Flyers and Penguins each have 99 points. If the Flyers get one point against the visiting Rangers in Sunday's game, they will take the No. 4 seed. If the Rangers win in regulation, the Flyers will finish fifth and Pittsburgh would get the fourth seed.

    The Flyers were 2-2-2 against the Penguins in the regular season, including a 3-1 win in Pittsburgh in their last meeting on March 22.

     Considering what was at stake, I'd call the first 20 minutes Saturday perhaps the Flyers' worst period of the season.

    They had no energy. No emotion. No sustained scoring threats.

    As a result, they fell into a 1-0 hole against the lowly Islanders,  the same team that dropped a 9-0 decision to Carolina recently.

   The visiting Flyers were outshot, 15-5, and outhit, 4-2. It marked the 18th time in the last 22 games that the Flyers did not lead after the first period.

   But to the Flyers' credit, they rebounded in the second period and outscored the Isles, 3-1, to take a 3-2 lead. They then held on in a defensive third period and finished 6-0 against the Islanders this year.

   Now they turn their attention to the Rangers, who scored a 2-1 win over the Flyers on Thursday behind Henrik Lundqvist's spectacular goaltending.