Barely in playoff hunt, Flyers face crucial game vs. Islanders

Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux faked a trade to St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux faked a trade to St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
Posted: April 09, 2013

The Flyers are five points out of a playoff spot and running out of time.

They have 10 games remaining, including Tuesday's matchup with the host New York Islanders, who hold the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot and have played one more game than the Flyers.

The Flyers aren't calling it a must-win situation, but they know a loss would place their playoff hopes on life support.

"We've had some success against the Islanders in the past, especially on Long Island, so we've got to stay positive and not get too down," winger Scott Hartnell said Saturday after an awful second period sent the Flyers to a 4-1 loss in Winnipeg. "Play 60 minutes. That's what we did in the last four games" before the Winnipeg disaster.

It appears the Flyers will not get any of their injured defensemen back to face the Islanders. Nick Grossmann has been listed as day-to-day for about two weeks, but it is "unlikely" he will play Tuesday, general manager Paul Holmgren said.

The Flyers are 1-1 against the Isles, scoring a 7-0 road win on Feb. 18 and blowing a 2-0 lead and dropping a 4-3 shootout at the Wells Fargo Center on March 28.

Since then, the Flyers have won four of five games.

Hartnell said the Flyers may have been too confident against a Jets team that had lost five straight.

"We might have thought maybe it was too easy [and] we'll just win out" the rest of the season, "and things will be all great here," he said. "We've got to take it as a wake-up call to get back at practice and get focused again and get up for the Islanders."

A regulation loss Tuesday would put the Flyers seven points out of a playoff berth.

"We can't think one game is more important than another one," said Ruslan Fedotenko, whose five-game points streak is his longest since 2009. "It's every game; we need every point."

The Flyers fell apart Saturday after defenseman Luke Schenn was hit in the head with the puck and went to the locker room for stitches. The Jets scored two goals while Schenn was out, and the Flyers' already-depleted defense left goalie Ilya Bryzgalov scrambling.

"We shut it down for the second period," winger Wayne Simmonds said. "It wasn't the defense or the goaltending. It was everybody."

The Flyers probably need to win seven of their final 10 games (five home, five away) to have a realistic shot at a playoff berth. Their schedule includes two games with the Islanders and one with the Rangers, teams that are five points ahead of them.


The Flyers were off Sunday and will practice in Voorhees at 11 a.m. Monday. . . . Bryzgalov is expected to make his 23d straight start Tuesday. He is the only NHL goalie to have all of his team's wins this year. . . . The Flyers announced they had signed University of Minnesota defenseman Mark Alt, 21, to an entry-level contract. Before the season, the 6-foot-4, 201-pound Alt and Brian Boucher were acquired from Carolina for minor-league center Luke Pither. Alt, a former second-round draft pick, will report to the Phantoms in the AHL.

Contact Sam Carchidi at Follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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