Islanders go with Greiss vs. Flyers
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NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders hope Thomas Greiss' return between the pipes will allow them to resume their winning ways. The reeling Philadelphia Flyers, on the other hand, have many more issues to worry about than just their goalie.
The two Metropolitan Division teams will renew their rivalry Wednesday night, when the Islanders host the Flyers in a Thanksgiving Eve clash at Barclays Center.
Both teams are coming off losses in their most recent games. The Islanders last played Sunday, when they fell to the host Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2. The Flyers suffered their fifth straight defeat Tuesday night, when they were beaten 5-2 by the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
While the loss for the Islanders (11-7-2) snapped a three-game winning streak and cost them a chance to move into first place in the Metropolitan, it likely crystallized their goalie situation. Thomas Greiss, who was in net for all three wins, sat Sunday in favor of Jaroslav Halak, who suffered his third straight loss after stopping 28 shots. New York has been outscored 13-5 in Halak's last three starts.
"Obviously it's not the start I hoped for," Halak said following the game.
Islanders head coach Doug Weight has already announced Greiss as Wednesday night's starter. Greiss, who alternated starts with Halak in October, is 4-0-1 in five starts this month.
A change in goal didn't help the Flyers (8-9-4) Tuesday, when Michel Neuvirth drew the start but was pulled after giving up four goals on 22 shots. Brian Elliott, who started the first four games of the losing streak and stopped all 13 shots he faced Tuesday, will likely start Wednesday.
The Flyers have been outscored 17-8 during the five-game losing streak, during which they've gone 0-3-2 to drop into last place in the Metropolitan and fall three points behind in the wild card race. But despite the recent skid, and Philadelphia's placement in the nip-and-tuck Metropolitan, right winger Wayne Simmonds preached patience prior to Tuesday's loss.
"There's no need to be worried," Simmonds told reporters. "We're a .500 hockey team right now. We've played 20 games and we've got 62 games left. We've got a really young team and we're growing every single day. Yeah, we're going to have our struggles, but we're also going to have points in the season where we make huge strides."
Elliott is 5-1-4 in 11 games against the Islanders. Greiss is 3-2-2 in nine career appearances against the Flyers.
Islanders right winger Cal Clutterbuck, who missed the previous two games due to illness, is expected to return to the lineup Wednesday. The Flyers will be without defenseman Radko Gudas, who will be serving the third game of the 10-game suspension he earned after slashing Winnipeg Jets center Mathieu Perreault last Thursday.
The game Wednesday will mark the sixth time since 1995 the Islanders have hosted the Flyers the night before Thanksgiving. New York earned a 3-1 win in the most recent meeting in 2015, when the franchise had just begun playing in Barclays Center after 42 seasons at Nassau Coliseum.
Updated November 22, 2017