Flyers-Islanders Preview

AP - Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers would like to start making things a bit easier on themselves, and that's usually not a problem at Nassau Coliseum.

Though they've had plenty of success in games they've trailed, the Flyers would prefer to avoid the need for another third-period comeback when they go for a sweep of a home-and-home set with the New York Islanders on Monday.

Rallies in the final 20 minutes have been a big reason why Philadelphia (25-19-5) has turned around a season that started with seven losses in its first eight games.

The Flyers have tied a franchise record for the most wins when trailing in the third, getting their ninth in Saturday's 6-4 victory over the Islanders (19-24-7). They scored three times in the final stanza, holding a 14-2 shots advantage.

"It's great," said rookie left wing Michael Raffl, who had a goal in the third. "If we get that together over 60 minutes, I think we are a really hard team to beat. I think everybody wants us to play better over 60 minutes. It makes it a lot easier than going in a goal down in the last period and trying to fight back. It takes a lot of energy."

Philadelphia isn't usually in that position against the Islanders, winning 33 of the past 39 meetings and 20 of 25 on Long Island. The Flyers won for the eighth time in nine trips Oct. 26, scoring three times in the opening period of a 5-2 victory.

A stronger performance in net is the obvious key to avoiding the need for comebacks.

Steve Mason gave up four goals on 24 shots and was pulled midway through the second period Saturday, hours after signing a three-year, $12.3 million extension. Ray Emery earned the victory by making five saves the rest of the way.

It's unclear who will get the nod Monday, but Mason has a 4.55 goals-against average while going 1-1-1 in his last four starts. He has the same record with a 1.95 GAA in three road games against the Islanders, making 26 saves Oct. 26.

Emery is 7-0-1 with a 1.59 GAA against New York.

Claude Giroux's 34 points in 28 games versus the Islanders is his highest total against any opponent. The captain's 16 points in 14 games at the Coliseum are his most at any visiting venue, and he's collected 14 during an eight-game points streak there.

Giroux's two assists Saturday gave him 17 points in nine overall meetings.

Andrej Meszaros has also had great success against the Islanders, scoring twice Saturday to give him 11 goals and 28 points in 30 games for his highest totals against any opponent. His next highest are five goals and 17 points in 40 meetings with Montreal.

The Islanders have fallen off a bit after a strong stretch, losing two of three after winning seven of eight. They allowed three goals in one period in each of those defeats.

"I thought we did some really good things through two," defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "We just didn't generate anything in the third, and we just can't have these lapses. We're playing well as of late, and these things can't keep re-occurring."

John Tavares has nine goals and 11 assists in the last 12 games after finding the net again Saturday. Despite New York's troubles with Philadelphia, the team captain has 17 points in 14 matchups, including five goals and two assists over the past six.

The Islanders, who are 3-11-3 against the Metropolitan Division, play their next seven games in New York. Three of those seven are against the Rangers: two at Madison Square Garden and another outdoors at Yankee Stadium on Jan. 29.

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