A game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New Jersey Devils is usually a matchup of teams battling for the Atlantic Division title.
This season, only one of those clubs can make that boast.
The league-worst Flyers (11-31-4) try to snap their latest losing streak at seven when they visit the Atlantic Division-leading Devils (28-14-5) on Saturday.
Philadelphia has been one of the NHL's top teams for years, winning division titles in three of the past five seasons and finishing with at least 90 points in each of the last 10.
This season, however, has the potential to be the worst in the franchise's 39-year history.
A lack of offense, injuries and shaky goaltending have all contributed to the Flyers' dismal season, and they're likely to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993-94.
Philadelphia ranks last in the NHL in goals scored (111) and goals-against average (3.80), and is 1-24 when it gives up the first goal.
The Flyers allowed two third-period goals Thursday and suffered their seventh straight loss, 4-2 to the New York Islanders.
"We were in the game," defenseman Derian Hatcher said. "Our power play got one. We were down and came back. It's not that we did all bad things. But we found a way to lose."
Antero Niittymaki stopped 32 shots, but lost his 13th straight decision.
"It's been a long time since I won a game," Niittymaki said. "I just have to keep battling hard and, hopefully, I will get that win sooner or later."
Captain Peter Forsberg didn't have much to celebrate despite recording his 600th career assist.
"It could have been a better day for that," Forsberg said. "It's good to reach it, but I think it just means I'm old. It's just bad to get it on a game like this, in the situation we're in right now."
Philadelphia, last in the NHL with three home wins, has dropped four straight on the road, getting outscored 12-3 in the previous two.
One of the only bright spots for the Flyers on Thursday was the return of forwards Mike Richards and Geoff Sanderson, who each missed 16 games with torn abdominal muscles.
New Jersey appears headed for its second straight Atlantic Division title, holding an 11-point lead over the second-place New York Rangers.
The Devils have been one of the league's hottest teams of late, winning three in a row and nine of 11 before a 3-2 shootout loss to Tampa Bay on Thursday.
"For two periods, I don't think we played very well," coach Claude Julien said. "To beat this team, you need three periods like we had in the third. Until that time, we were a little sluggish in our passing and decision-making."
All-Star Martin Brodeur had another strong performance despite the defeat. He has allowed two goals or fewer in regulation in four straight starts and six of his last seven.
The line of Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta has produced nine goals and 19 assists in the last six meetings with Philadelphia.
New Jersey has won the first three matchups of the season with Philadelphia and six straight overall. Brodeur has surrendered only eight goals during a personal six-game win streak against the Flyers.
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