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Isles Home Stand Starts With 4-3 SO Loss To The Buffalo Sabres

The New York Islanders returned home after a disappointing road trip, losing back-to-back games to the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators. But their losing ways would follow them back home as they fell 4-3 to the Buffalo Sabres after being defeated in the shootout.

The first period opened with the Isles controlling the play for the entire period. Although both teams had plenty of shots, the Isles led the way with a 16-11 advantage. Evgeni Nabokov had to make some key saves, but the fore-check that the Isles put on in the offensive zone eventually led to a goal from Frans Nielsen.

The Danish center-man toe dragged the puck in the high slot and let go of a wicked wrister that beat Ryan Miller just over his glove and inside the far post. The assists went to Pierre-Marc Bouchard, his first as an Islanders forward, and Josh Bailey.

The Islanders Are Officially Done With DiPietro

The New York Islanders have officially removed Rick DiPietro's name from their roster after using one of their two compliance buyouts on the former number one goaltender yesterday. The buyout will pay him $1.5 million over the next 16 seasons and makes him an unrestricted free agent in search of a new NHL home (Photo credit: xjowell/Flickr).

DiPietro was drafted by Mike Milbury with the 1st overall pick 13 years ago, making history in the NHL as he was the first goaltender to ever be selected first overall. He immediately began his career with the Islanders before seeing some time with the Isles AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Isles Files: A Look Ahead To Free Agency

At most, the 2013 NHL season has two games remaining. The Chicago Blackhawks have the opportunity to send the Boston Bruins home without any new hardware, as a win tonight would make them this year's Stanley Cup Champions.

With that being said, the New York Islanders organization has been preparing for the NHL Entry draft, as well as free agency.

As we jump ahead to July 5th, there are a handful of players that the Islanders might consider for the 2013-2014 roster that may make them a better contending team for next season's playoff run.

Penn State Expressed Interest In A Winter Classic Between Penguins, Flyers

Ever since the Winter Classic was introduced in 2008 with the Pittsburgh Penguins beating the Buffalo Sabres in a blizzard, fans in the Tri State area have fantasized about a match-up between the Flyers and Penguins in the most perfect setting.

That fantasy setting is Happy Valley and it may become a reality in the near future.

Penn State officials confirmed with WJACTV that the school is seriously considering an outdoor game to host an NHL team, or at least their own Nittany Lions in Big Ten action.

Ever since Penn State's hockey team became a Division 1 sports, hockey has exploded in Happy Valley. They played Neumann College on January 4, 2012, losing 6-3.

It has become the most recent catalyst in getting a Flyers/Penguins game at Beaver Stadium.

(Photo by Joe Hermitt/The Patriot-News)

Islanders Face Buffalo As Final Tune-Up Before The Playoffs

The New York Islanders travel west to Buffalo to face the Sabres before heading to the playoffs for the first time since the 2006-07 season.

The Isles will start goalie Evgeni Nabokov in an effort to keep him sharp for the start of the playoffs.

Who the Isles face is to be determined, but not because of uncertainty at the top of Eastern Conference standings but rather the fluidity at the bottom where the Isles reside.

Are There Any Playoff Heroes On The Islanders?

Many teams that make the post-season have a player on their roster that elevates his style of play in order to reach a new level of performance during the most meaningful games of the year in the playoffs. These players are instrumental to each team's success in the playoffs and help carry their teams to several victories in their run for the Cup.

Looking back to the recent past, players such as Fernando Pisani and Sean Bergenheim come to mind. Pisani, who was playing for the Edmonton Oilers during their Cup run in 2006, only had 37 points in 80 regular season games but burst onto the playoff scene with 14 goals and 18 points in 24 playoff games.

Enroth Shuts Out Flyers

There is only one way to kill the momentum of a four-game winning streak and that is to follow it up with a four-game losing streak.

The Flyers continued on their skid, dropping their fourth straight game. They lost to Buffalo, 1-0, Saturday afternoon, pushing them closer to mathematical elimination from the post season.

In the last four games, the Flyers were out-scored 12-3. The power play had also fizzled, going 0-for-2 on the night to continue their skid to 0-for-15.

(Pictured: Jhonas Enroth keeps the puck out in the 2nd period. AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Flyers Head to Buffalo in Matinee

The Flyers head to Buffalo where they face another team in a similar position. Both teams have some decent ground to make up in the standings with such little time left. Whoever wins this game could give themselves good momentum or a false sense of hope.

Flyers Harness the Right Type of Physicality In Their Win

Heading into Sunday night, the Flyers had allowed seven straight goals, blowing a 4-1 lead to Pittsburgh to lose 5-4 on Thursday and then getting shut-out 3-0 to the Bruins on Saturday.

Speed and an inability to have a physical presence in front of the net cost the Flyers the game on Thursday. Saturday's loss was three minutes of embarrassing hockey in which they were again out-worked.

Compound those two losses with the 4-2 loss to New York on Tuesday in which the Rangers scored three unanswered to win and the Flyers found themselves on a three-game losing streak and three games under .500.

Hosting the last-place Buffalo Sabres on Sunday, the Flyers needed to drastically change something.

(Pictured: Wayne Simmonds fights with Mike Weber in the first period after Simmonds' hit on Tyler Ennis. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Physical Flyers Escape With Tight Win Over the Sabres

Something had to have been said before the game because a different Flyers team was out on the ice.

The Flyers controlled the tempo early, kept Buffalo mentally out of the game, and gave a much better team effort that didn't resemble last week's edition of the Flyers.

They had to battle with Buffalo though, who was throwing the body around and trying to draw the Flyers into making mental mistakes with the physical game. In the end, the Flyers overcame it, winning a nail-biting 3-2 game in which head coach Peter Laviolette saw some positives.

(Pictured: The puck gets passed Ilya Bryzgalov, but was then saved by Brayden Schenn before it crossed the goal line. Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)