PHILADELPHIA — Thomas Hickey’s return from a left knee injury on Nov. 28 may have just coincided with the Islanders accelerating the 5-0-2 streak they brought here Tuesday night — the Isles were 4-0-1 with Hickey back from this latest injury and 7-1-1 overall with Hickey in the lineup — but there’s certainly a difference on the third defense pair with Hickey around.

“I feel like the last couple games, Zid [Marek Zidlicky] and I have been reading off each other so well,” Hickey said after Tuesday’s morning skate. “When to jump, covering for one another at the points — it’s been real smooth. There’s a good chemistry growing there.”

Hickey has been wearing a brace on his left leg since his return from what’s believed to be a sprained medial collateral ligament, suffered in St. Louis on Oct. 24. Hickey said he’s never had a knee injury before so he was concerned about his return and wearing the brace, but his skating hasn’t suffered.

“There was a little tweak my first game back, which they said is normal,” he said. “But I haven’t even noticed [the brace]. So far, everything’s been good.”

MacDonald credits Gordon

Andrew MacDonald made his Flyers season debut on Tuesday after he was blindsided by a demotion to the AHL before the start of the season. He did have a familiar face to greet him upon his arrival in the minors, where his $5 million salary-cap hit was the highest in the league.

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Former Islanders coach Scott Gordon is in his first season coaching the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who play in Allentown, 90 minutes from Philadelphia.

“He and I had a good talk when I got there, he just wanted to see me get back to doing what I know I can do,” said MacDonald, who played parts of two seasons for Gordon with the Islanders. “I really appreciated his help.”

MacDonald led Lehigh Valley defensemen with 13 points in 23 games before being recalled.