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Ristolainen returns as Flyers try to avoid three-game losing streak against Sorokin, Islanders

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

An eight-game divisional gauntlet has not been kind to the Philadelphia Flyers so far, as they have gone just 1-2-0 after back-to-back crushing losses to the New York Islanders and New York Rangers. Tonight, they’ll look to snap out of their funk in their second visit to Belmont Park in four nights.

The Islanders – mainly Ilya Sorokin – held the Flyers at bay in a 3-2 decision on Wednesday night. Anders Lee opened the scoring 1:49 into the game and the home team jumped out to two separate two-goal leads in the contest. Despite Philadelphia’s attempts to claw back with goals from Cam York and Joel Farabee, Sorokin fended off 34 shots to preserve an Islanders victory.

The Flyers have been chasing games recently, which is a trend they’d like to stop. Philadelphia is 0-9-0 when allowing the first goal and have yet to record a comeback victory this season.

Friday’s loss to the Rangers was marred by another unsatisfactory performance by the power play and dreadful defensive breakdowns. Head coach John Tortorella was especially annoyed with the latter of those issues after yesterday’s 3-1 loss.

“Just way too many odd-man rushes. It’s really been a staple of our team this year, our discipline with that, and we were nowhere to be found with our backchecking.”

In saying that, the Flyers will receive a boost to their back end tonight as Rasmus Ristolainen will make his season debut. The hulking 6’4″, 208-pound Finn will replace Egor Zamula in the lineup after missing the first 20 games of the season with an undisclosed injury. Ristolainen appeared in 74 games last season for the Flyers, notching 3 goals and 10 assists for 13 points to accompany a -4 rating and 32 penalty minutes.

Morgan Frost will also draw back into the lineup after being healthy scratched for the past three games for Bobby Brink. Noah Cates suffered a facial injury yesterday after taking a puck to the mouth that required stitches, but he returned to the game and will play tonight as well.

On the other side of the ice, the Islanders are starting to catch their stride. They have won three consecutive games and are riding a five-game point streak (3-0-2) dating back to November 15th. Brock Nelson has been their most productive player in this recent stretch, racking up 8 points (4g, 4a) in those 5 games, including 2 goals on Wednesday against the Flyers. Mathew Barzal also has 6 points during the Islanders’ point streak, and Kyle Palmieri has 4.

Notorious Flyer killer Ilya Sorokin will also be back between the pipes after putting on a dazzling display against Philadelphia in the last meeting. Sorokin is 9-2-1 with a mind-boggling .944 SV% and 1.63 GAA along with 2 shutouts against the Flyers in his career. His save percentage is the best against the Flyers all-time by any goaltender.

PHI Record: 10-9-1, 21 pts, 5th in Metropolitan

NYI Record: 8-6-5, 21 pts, 4th in Metropolitan

When: 7:30pm ET

Where: UBS Arena, Elmont, NY

Broadcast Info: NBC Sports Philadelphia+, 93.3 WMMR

Last Game PHI: 11/24/23, 3-1 L vs. NY Rangers

Last Game NYI: 11/24/23, 5-3 W at Ottawa

PHI Goalie: Samuel Ersson (3-3-1, .863 SV%, 3.22 GAA, 0 SO)

NYI Goalie: Ilya Sorokin (5-3-4, .909 SV%, 3.21 GAA, 1 SO)

PHI Projected Lineup

#71 Tyson Foerster – #14 Sean Couturier – #11 Travis Konecny

#74 Owen Tippett – #25 Ryan Poehling – #89 Cam Atkinson

#86 Joel Farabee – #48 Morgan Frost – #21 Scott Laughton

#44 Nicolas Deslauriers – #27 Noah Cates – #19 Garnet Hathaway

#8 Cam York – #6 Travis Sanheim

#24 Nick Seeler – #26 Sean Walker

#18 Marc Staal – #55 Rasmus Ristolainen

#33 Samuel Ersson

#79 Carter Hart

Scratches: #5 Egor Zamula, #10 Bobby Brink, #37 Louie Belpedio

NYI Projected Lineup

#13 Mathew Barzal – #14 Bo Horvat – #10 Simon Holmström

#18 Pierre Engvall – #29 Brock Nelson – #21 Kyle Palmieri

#27 Anders Lee – #44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau – #26 Oliver Wahlstrom

#20 Hudson Fasching – #53 Casey Cizikas – #15 Cal Clutterbuck

#4 Samuel Bolduc – #8 Noah Dobson

#28 Alexander Romanov – #6 Ryan Pulock

#25 Sebastian Aho – #24 Scott Mayfield

#30 Ilya Sorokin

#40 Semyon Varlamov

Scratches: #7 Grant Hutton, #16 Julien Gauthier, Mike Reilly

Injuries: #3 Adam Pelech, #17 Matt Martin

News and Notes

– The Flyers are still searching for their first win at UBS Arena since it opened in 2021. Philadelphia is 0-5-0 all-time inside the building.

– The Flyers haven’t won a road game of any kind against the Islanders since March 18th, 2021, a span of 9 games. They are 0-6-2 in the 8 away contests since their last win on Long Island.

– Philadelphia is 61-65-15-7 on the road against the Islanders and 144-102-26-18 overall since New York joined the league in 1972.

– Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson are both the active leaders on the Flyers in scoring against the Islanders, with both notching 28 points against them. Atkinson has 14 goals and 14 assists in 32 games, while Couturier has 10 goals and 18 assists in 43 games.

– Samuel Ersson has won his last two outings, posting a combined .917 SV% and 2.50 GAA in those games. If you look at his last four contests, he has gone 3-1-0 with a .921 SV% and 2.02 GAA.

Union Forge Vodka proudly serves as the Official Vodka of Flyers Nation. This partnership celebrates the unyielding spirit of Flyers fans and offers a quality spirit that perfectly compliments the team’s essence. Whether celebrating victories or showing resilience, Union Forge Vodka embodies the winning spirit of both the Flyers and their dedicated fans. Stay connected with exciting giveaways by following @unionforge and @flyersnation across all social media platforms.

Managing Editor at Flyers Nation. Proud lifelong supporter of the Philadelphia Flyers and all things hockey related. Steve Mason's #1 fan.

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