The Philadelphia Flyers will be searching for their fourth consecutive victory when they host the New York Islanders for the second day in a row on Sunday.
After sweeping a pair of games on the road against the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers were fortunate to extend their winning streak against the Islanders. The Flyers managed only 17 shots on goal, but the most important one was Scott Laughton’s game winner with 1:44 left in overtime for a 3-2 win.
“They were the better team on the ice,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said of the Islanders. “We were able to bend and not break. We’ll be looking for ways to get better.”
Goaltender Carter Hart stopped 26 of 28 shots, but Vigneault said after the game that backup Brian Elliott will start Sunday.
Travis Konecny will also be back on Sunday, according to Vigneault, after being benched as a healthy scratch on Saturday. Konecny was the Flyers’ leading goal scorer last season.
“His 5-on-5 game needs to be better in the areas that he’s aware of,” Vigneault said. “I had a good conversation with him and expect him, the next time he’s back in the lineup, to play the right way.”
This rematch against the Islanders will be the 10th game for the Flyers. They’re 6-2-1 and yet haven’t played particularly well at times.
The Flyers haven’t reached 20 shots on goal in three of the first nine games.
Yet they’re winning.
“What I’m looking for from our group is to play the right way that permits you to win,” Vigneault said.
The Islanders will be hoping to avoid a fifth straight loss, which wasn’t expected after advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals last season.
They quickly fell behind 2-0 on Saturday but tied the game at 2 and were clearly the better team in the second and third periods.
Islanders head coach Barry Trotz indicated that Ilya Sorokin will likely start in goal on Sunday. Semyon Varlamov played Saturday and stopped 14 of 17 shots.
Trotz added that there could be other lineup changes.
For the Islanders, the task is to revert back to their playoff form of a season ago.
“There’s not much difference between the top teams and the bottom teams and so it is going to be the grind,” Trotz said. “Let’s embrace the grind, the battle and stay in the fight.”
How do the Islanders do that?
“Everyone wants to pile on right now,” Trotz said. “Sometimes when you think it gets the darkest, that’s when you’re closest to breaking out of it. So that’s what we’re going to hold onto right now.”
One player who was consistent again Saturday was Matt Martin. It was the 700th game played in Martin’s career.
“The game’s changed a lot since I first came in the league,” Martin said. “When I first came here, it was all about getting bigger, bigger, bigger. For the last three or four years, it’s kind of been a little back the other way. We’re trying to get skinnier and lighter. The rules have changed. And you’ve got to continue to evolve if you want to stay in this league.”
–Field Level Media