The New York Islanders spotted the Philadelphia Flyers a three-goal lead, then made a late comeback effort which just fell short as they fell 3-2 at the Nassau Coliseum. It was the fifth straight loss for the Islanders (0-3-2).
The Isles again played an uneven game and their failure to play consistent hockey for 60 minutes was costly against a red-hot Flyers team that won for the seventh time in their last eight games.
Isles captain Mark Streit realized that playing well in spurts remains a problem for his team. “We saw how when we forecheck how successful we can be,” Streit said. “But 10 minutes out of 60 minutes is just not enough against a team like Philadelphia.”
The Flyers took an early 1-0 lead on a bad angle shot from Zac Renaldo who released the puck from the corner near the goal line and it somehow found its way past Isles starter Evgeni Nabokov. The Isles goalie did not take the proper angle on the play.
Throughout the game, Philadelphia’s first line was swarming in the Islanders zone, making great passes to open areas to keep possession of the puck for long stretches of time. It paid off twice in this game to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead by the 7:02 mark of the second period.
First a good pass by Jaromir Jagr set up Claude Giroux for his 26th goal of the year on a one-timer from the right circle. Jagr used his large frame to box out Streit and pass the puck to Giroux who scored at 13:26 of the first period.
Then a beautiful long pass by Kimmo Timonen sent Scott Hartnell in alone on a breakaway and he easily wristed a shot past Nabokov to give Philadelphia a commanding 3-0 lead.
The Islanders had a chance to get back in the game late in the second period when they were given back-t0-back power play opportunities but they were unable to cash in on either chance.
“We didn’t execute at all,” Coach Jack Capuano said after the game when asked about his club’s two chances with the man-advantage.
The Islanders looked listless for long stretches of the game but mounted a late comeback effort. Michael Grabner scored with 6:30 left in the game when he deflected a shot by Streit out of mid-air and beat Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. The goal ended a Flyers record shutout streak of 249:43 for the Russian goaltender who had recorded shutouts in his previous three starts.
John Tavares pulled the Isles within a goal just 35 seconds later on a shot from the slot and the Islanders and the home crowd of 13,827 suddenly became energized.
Unfortunately, Bryzgalov held firm after that and the Islanders were unable to manage to even the game.
“We lacked energy and a little bit of passion in the first two periods and that cost us the game,” admitted Isles forward P.A. Parenteau. “But it’s nice to see the guys fighting and not giving up against a pretty good hockey team.”
As a team, the Islanders are still searching for answers to their inconsistent effort. “It’s unaccaptable for us not to come out and play each and every game a full 60 minutes and compete hard,” Tavares said. “When we do that, we make it hard on teams and we did that at a lot of points tonight, but sometimes there are too many breakdowns and too many lapses that are costing us. We have to be better in those areas. We’re not going to improve and we’re not going to win too many hockey games unless we play a full game.”
The Islanders begin a five-game road trip when they travel to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. The Flyers travel to Boston for a Saturday matinee against the Bruins.
Marty Reasoner and Steve Staios were the Isles scratches tonight.
During the game, referee Stephane Auger was hit in the face by an inadvertent stick early in the third period. He was helped to the locker room.
The old Flyers shutout record was 227:40 set by John Vanbiesbrouck back in 1999.