James van Riemsdyk netted a hat trick and Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves as the Philadelphia Flyers downed the New York Islanders 4-1 at the Nassau Coliseum Saturday. The loss mathematically eliminated the Islanders from the 2011 Stanley Cup playoff race.
Isles Coach Jack Capuano, while disappointed, tried to look at the positives he got from his young team especially during the second half of the season. “We’ve got a young group in there who got a lot of minutes they probably wouldn’t have gotten if we didn’t sustain as many injuries as we had. I can’t say enough about the guys in that room. We have a few games left and we’re going to play hard and see what happens. For the last month and a half or two, they’ve given us everything they’ve got.”
Tonight, the Islanders and Flyers came out with fists flying as Michael Haley and Dan Carcillo dropped the gloves just two seconds into the game and Zenon Konopka and Sean O’Donnell followed 19 seconds later.
When it came to scoring, however, the Flyers struck quickly with a pair of goals 22 seconds apart just over eight minutes into the game that gave them a lead they never relinquished. First, Jeff Carter scored right off a faceoff win by Claude Giroux to make it 1-0 Philadelphia. Then van Riemsdyk came hard down the right side and poked in his own rebound from behind the goal line to quickly double the Flyers lead.
Blake Comeau scored the only Isles goal of the night at the 10:28 mark of the first period. Josh Bailey corralled the rebound of a Radek Martinek shot from the right circle and found Comeau open near the left post. The Islanders were back in the game and trailed just 2-1.
But van Riemsdyk scored again less than three minutes later on the prettiest goal of the night. Andrej Meszaros passed the puck to van Riemsdyk by “shooting” wide and hard off the boards as part of a set play. The puck bounced right to van Riemsdyk who was wide open and tapped the puck past a surprised Rick DiPietro to give Philadelphia a 3-1 lead. The Flyers executed the play to perfection, something you rarely see teams do when playing on the road.
The Islanders managed 37 shots on net but rarely tested Bobrovsky. The Flyers defense kept the Islanders on the perimeter and limited their quality chances and rebound opportunities.
van Riemsdyk completed his hat trick with a power play goal midway through the third period on a one-timer from the slot that again came on a pass off the boards.
Looking forward, Capuano spelled out what he expected from his club for the remremainder of the season. “To have good habits and play within the team concept, to continue to focus on details and what our coaches are trying to teach and doing the right things at the right time,” he said.
The players also remain determined and have plenty left to play for. “No one ever wants to be playing down the stretch knowing that they’re not going to be in the playoffs,” defenseman Travis Hamonic admitted. “For us, we have some motivation, guys are obviously battling for their jobs for next season coming into camp and everyone wants to finish off on a strong note.”
The Islanders return to action Wednesday night when they face the Devils in New Jersey.
Trevor Gillies was eligible to return as he completed his 10-game suspension but he was a healthy scratch for the Isles. Chris Pronger, Jody Shelley and Nikolay Zherdev were the Flyers scratches.
The win gave the Flyers 100 points for the season.
Philadelphia has won 20 of the last 21 games with the Isles.