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For Flyers, the trend continues

By the time the playoffs roll around, the Flyers should be pretty adept at playing in pressure-filled games.

The reason?

They seem to play a one-goal games every time they skate onto the Wachovia Center ice.

If any game looked like it might be a breather on the schedule for the Flyers, it was tonight's matchup against the visiting Islanders.

The Isles, after all, are one of the NHL's worst teams _ and they figured to be tired from playing the previous night.

But the Islanders built a 2-0 lead and the Flyers had to huff and puff to pull out a 4-3 victory.

Technically, 13 of the Flyers' 14 home games have been decided by one goal. But when you consider that Montreal scored an empty-netter in its 5-3 win earlier this year, the Flyers have actually been involved in one-goal decisions in all 14 home games.

The fourth line _ center Darroll Powe and wingers Riley Cote and Arron Asham _ keyed tonight's win as they combined for half of the four goals. Powe scored the first goal of his NHL career, and Asham ripped home a shot after Cote checked Jon Sim and made a gorgeous set-up pass.

I got some raised eyebrows from some colleagues (hello, Jim Jackson) for selecting Powe as the No. 1 star.

Hey, it's not every day you score your first NHL goal, and Powe was plus-2 in a gritty 6:36 of action.

I gave Cote the second star because he jump-started the team with his check and goal-creating pass, which helped the Flyers get to within 2-1 and energized the club.

Yes, the Flyers have a knack of playing to the level of their competition. They go down-to-the-wire whether the opponent is a powerhouse (see San Jose) or a lightweight (see the Islanders). But they are now 10-1-3 in their last 14 games, so nobody should complain.

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My odds on the Flyers signing free-agents Mats Sundin or Brendan Shanahan: 40-1.

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Defenseman Kimmo Timonen was a plus-3 tonight.....The Isles had a 33-32 faceoff edge....Jeff Carter became the seventh-fastest player in Flyers history to reach 20 goals. He didn't score his 20th last year until Feb. 25 _ so he's 2 1/2 months ahead of last season's 29-goal pace......The Flyers are now tied with the Penguins for second place in the Atlantic Division, and the teams will square off in an intriguing 1 p.m. matinee Saturday at the Wachovia Center.

_ Sam Carchidi