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Playoff Gameday: Islanders Expecting Desperate Flyers Team in Game 5



New York Islanders celebrate goal

The New York Islanders can punch their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993 with a win tonight in Game 5. The only thing standing in their way: The Philadelphia Flyers.

Up 3-1 in the Second Round Series, the Islanders fully understand that the Flyers will be as desperate as they come to keep their season alive and buck history. The Flyers are 1-17 all-time when they trail a series 3-1, according to Eric Hornick, while the Islanders are a perfect 10-0.

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“They’re obviously desperate. They’re going to bring their best game and you have to match that desperation with the same intensity,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “The same determination to get the fourth win. The fourth win is always the toughest. It’s the one that you have to go through. No one is going to give it to you. You can’t go around it, you have to go through it, and have that little bit of killer instinct.”

The Flyers have jumped out to quick starts during the series against the Islanders and New York has had to battle back from deficits in two of the four games so far. While the Flyers scoring has been limited, they have created chances and forced Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss to make some tough saves.

The focus for tonight will be preventing them from generating too many chances early on.

“They have a lot of skill up front,” Ryan Pulock said. “It’s going to be important for us tonight to be hard in our D zone. All five guys and kind of end their cycle game. Just be smart in the neutral zone. Not letting guys behind you. They like to flip it a bit and they like to stretch the zone a bit.

“It’s going to be important that we’re aware of that and just keeping your play in front of you.”

Tonight’s game comes with plenty of significance for the New York Islanders, who will move on to the conference finals for the first time in 27 years with a win. It will be the furthest that several of the longest-tenured Islanders will have gone in the playoffs.

That certainly has the fans licking their chops and could be an easy distraction for the players on the ice if they let their imagination get ahead of themselves. Anders Lee said that the chance to move to the conference finals for the first time since 1993 is very special, but the team is focused on just one game at a time.

Islanders Goalies Have Full Trust of Trotz and Team

“For today it’s all about tonight,” Lee said. “Those (accomplishments) will come if we take care of business at the right time. In a playoff run like this, it’s hard not to, at times, to daydream and to have wonderful thoughts, but you have a task at hand that day. You can’t get ahead of yourself because there is too much competition on either side to really look forward at all.

“That day to day grind and focus is extremely important.”

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers will do their best to change the course of history tonight, or at the very least extend the series one more game. Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneault said his team had a “great opportunity” tonight.

“This game in front of us should bring out the best in players,” Vigneault said. “I’m confident with our group. We responded well. We responded well last game. We didn’t get the win, but we played well enough to win.”

Vigneault wouldn’t give too much details about his lineup tonight, but there is a chance there could be a lineup change. However, it most likely won’t be Oskar Lindblom. He will take warmups with the team though.

Game Notes

Josh Bailey tied Derek King for most assists in a single postseason when he picked up his 10th and 11th in Game 4. King set the record during the 1984-85 postseason. … Jean-Gabriel Pageau tied Anthony Beauvillier for the team lead in goals this postseason when he recorded his seventh goal on Sunday in Game 4. … The Islanders have been a perfect 10-0 when allowing two or fewer goals in the playoffs this year. … The Flyers’ 38 shots on net in Game 4 was the highest they’ve recorded this postseason. … Philadelphia is 8-1 when scoring the game’s first goal in the playoffs this year. Game 4 was the first time they lost after scoring the opening goal. … The Flyers are 36-27 all-time in Game 5s.

How to Watch

Locally the game will air on NBCSN. On the radio dial, the game will air on 98.7 FM ESPN New York, 88.7 FM WRHU and 103.9 FM LI News Radio.