The New York Islanders continued their playoff push with a 4-1 win over the Flyers at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night. An enthusiastic crowd chanted, “We want playoffs!” as the final seconds ticked off the clock. The win left the Islanders in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings and improved their record to 7-1-1 in their last nine games.
Best of all, the team has more confidence than it has had in a long time and appears to be completely buying in to Coach Jack Capuano’s system.
“We have a singular focus, to play strong defense and elevate our game in the third period,” Isles Coach Jack Capuano said. ”The guys are believing in each other and playing hard.”
Philadelphia took an early 1-0 lead on a goal by Jakub Voracek just 6:28 into the game. The line of Voracek, Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell gave the Islanders trouble early in the game by using their size and cycling in the New York zone.
Matt Moulson scored his 13th of the season on an odd-man rush with John Tavares and Brad Boyes with 4:24 left in the opening period. Neither team looked particularly sharp early in the game although the Isles outshot the Flyers 8-5.
Michael Grabner broke the tie late in the second period on a wrist shot from between the circles off a nice pass by Colin McDonald at the 17:42 mark. The Isles took a slim 2-1 lead into the third period.
Earlier Islanders teams had trouble in the third period but now, the club seems to be doing the little things right to shut down opposing attacks. They limited the Flyers to eight shots in the third period and even fewer quality scoring chances.
On the few occasions the Flyers did come close, Isles goalie Evgeni Nabokov closed the door. Nabokov made 26 saves to earn the victory.
The Isles put the game away late when John Tavares scored his 24th goal of the season with just 1:37 remaining in the third period. Tavares took a shot that goalie Steve Mason stopped but the rebound went in off Philadelphia defenseman Erik Gustafsson.
“I just tried to get the rebound,” Moulson said. “I didn’t touch it. I kind of pushed Gustafsson toward the net and luckily it went off him and in.”
An empty net goal by Casey Cizikas with 1:09 left to give the Isles the final 4-1 margin of victory.
As the clock ticked away, the fans cheered on the Isles and chanted “Last place Flyers,” at the visitors.
“We’re focusing on one game at a time knowing that we control all of our cards in our hands,” Grabner said. ”We still have a lot of work to do.”
That work continues Thursday night when the Islanders travel to Boston to take on the Bruins. Islanders tickets for this and other games are available.
Moulson was back in the lineup after missing Saturday night’s game with flu-like symptoms. It was the first game he missed since joining the Islanders.
The Islanders scratched Radek Martinek, Marty Reasoner, Anders Lee and Eric Boulton.
The start was the first for Steve Mason since joining the Flyers at the trade deadline.