The New York Islanders had an improved effort and played a stronger game Wednesday night but the Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-1 deficit and defeated the Isles 4-3 in overtime. Daniel Briere scored the game winner 2:26 into the extra session. Kyle Okposo scored his first two goals of the year and added an assist for the Isles.
Despite the loss, the Islanders picked up a point and Coach Jack Capuano, who soundly criticized his club after their last home loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday, was much more pleased with his club’s performance. “We competed hard tonight against a real good team, a big physical team and a team that was desperate and coming off a couple of losses themselves,” Capuano said. “Their key players made some key plays at key moments of the game.”
The Islanders got off to an inauspicious start when Andrej Meszaros scored on the first shot of the game just 18 seconds into the game. Meszaros was untouched skating down the left side and let go a hard slap shot from the left circle that beat Isles starter Rick DiPietro over his shoulder to give the Flyers a quick 1-0 lead.
Okposo evened the score just 19 seconds later when he earned his first goal of the season. Michael Grabner intercepted a clearing attempt and fed Okposo in the slot. Okposo beat Ilya Bryzgalov with a wrist shot and the game was even 1-1. The goal ended Okposo’s personal slump and was the Isles first score in 142:17.
It was a big relief to the former first round pick to get the monkey off his back. “It felt good,” Okposo admitted. “That’s the way I know how to play. I don’t know what it was from the beginning of the year but I wasn’t doing it. Something clicked mentally and I’m just happy to be back. I’m going to try to play like that every night and work really hard. Goals are just a byproduct of that.”
The Islanders took the lead on Okposo’s second tally of the night midway through the opening period. With Zac Rinaldo off for interference, Grabner, Josh Bailey and Okposo completed a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play that set up Okposo for a tap in to an open net.
“Grabs [Grabner] threaded the needle,” Bailey said. “There wasn’t much room there for him, he made a great pass. In that situation, everybody commits like I’m going to shoot, the goalie and the player included and he did a good job sliding it back so it was a nice tic-tac-toe play.”
The Islanders increased their lead to 3-1 on a nice wrist shot by Grabner with just 1:31 left in the first period. The Islanders gained momentum and took control of the game by the last 10 minutes of the period. Bryzgalov struggled throughout the first 20 minutes and allowed three goals on nine shots before being pulled for Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Flyers slowly started to chip away at the Islanders lead. 5:25 into the second period, the Flyers converted a power play chance when Scott Hartnell played the puck after it took a funny bounce off the boards and roofed a shot over DiPietro’s shoulder with just one second left on the man advantage.
The tying goal came with 5:42 left in regulation. Briere cashed in when a shot by Braydon Coburn took a hard bounce off the boards, went off of DiPietro’s glove and right in front of the net. He lifted the puck over DiPietro’s shoulder and suddenly the game was even at 3-3.
In overtime, the Isles had a chance to win when Hartnell tripped Travis Hamonic, but the despite some good scoring chances, the Islanders were unable to cash in during the 4-on-3 power play advantage.
“We should have capitalized on the 4-on-3 and we didn’t and that’s on us,” Isles forward P.A. Parenteau admitted after the game. “Besides that, I think we saw a good effort overall.”
Just 13 seconds after the Islanders power play expired, the game was over as Briere beat DiPietro with a wrist shot from just inside the Islanders blue line.
While the Islanders were more satisfied with their effort, the team is still showing frustration after losing for the 13th time in their last 16 games.
“We talked about being vested in yourself, emotionally, physically and holding together as a group and I think we did that from the start of the game to the end of the game,” Capuano said. “We were pretty good in a lot of areas tonight but as hard as we worked, we still came out on the short end of the stick.”
Okposo tried to look at the positives. “We played a 60-minute plus hockey game,” he said. “The effort was there tonight. There weren’t really many lapses…If we play like that every night, we’re going to put ourselves in position to win hockey games.”
After taking Thanksgiving off, the Isles return to action Friday afternoon with a matinee at the Coliseum against the New Jersey Devils. The Flyers also play Friday afternoon when they host Montreal.
The Islanders unveiled their new third jerseys tonight. They are black and orange with gray trim. They will wear them 11 more times this season including Friday’s game against New Jersey.
Jaromir Jagr left the game in the second period with a lower body injury and did not return. He played less than eight minutes and was receiving some attention from trainers on the Flyers bench during the second period. His status will be updated soon.
After the game, the Islanders announced that goalie Al Montoya had been activated off the injured list and Anders Nilsson had been returned to Bridgeport. Nilsson served as DiPietro’s backup again tonight.
Isles forward P.A. Parenteau called for an illegal hit to the head with 20 seconds left in the first period for a check along the near boards on Maxime Talbot. Initial replays appeared to show a clean shoulder to shoulder check although one of the off ice officials said they saw a different angle of the hit that showed Parenteau got his elbow up. “It was shoulder to shoulder,” Parenteau said after the game. “I didn’t try to hit him to hurt him, I just tried to finish my check.”
Michael Haley made his Islanders debut after being called up from Bridgeport. He played only 5:08 and was called for one minor penalty.