The New York Islanders were outplayed by the Philadelphia Flyers for most of Thursday night’s game at the Barclays Center, but a strong performance by goalie Jaroslav Halak helped the Islanders steal a point in a 3-2 shootout loss. Halak made 40 saves in the game and gave the Isles a chance to win before yielding the game-winner in the shootout to Claude Giroux. John Tavares had a chance to even things up in the shootout but ex-Islander Michal Neuvirth poke checked the puck away from the Islanders captain to clinch the win for the road team.
While the Flyers had played the previous night against Detroit and the Islanders were more rested, it was the Flyers who came out strong in the first period. It took the Islanders 8:39 to register their first shot on goal and they were badly outplayed by the road team over the first 13 minutes of the game.
“We’ve got to execute better,” admitted Isles captain John Tavares after the game. “We’re just not very good at coming out of our own end right now. It just completely slows us down and we can’t generate any transition up the ice. It really kills our forecheck.”
The Isles picked up their play in the final five minutes of the period and were fortunate to head into the locker room all even at 0-0 despite being outshot 14-8.
The second period lacked pace but was a more even affair and each team scored once. The Flyers took a 1-0 lead at the 11:11 mark when Travis Konecny put home his own rebound but the Isles were able to even things up in the final minute of the middle stanza on a power-play goal by Tavares. Casey Cizikas made a pinpoint pass to the captain who was alone just outside the crease and poked the puck past Neuvirth.
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg gave the Isles a 2-1 lead as his shot slipped through Neuvirth’s pads at 12:55 of the third period. It was a goal the Flyers goalie definitely would like to have back. Despite being outplayed, it seemed the Islanders had a chance to win this game if they could hold on and defeat their longtime division rivals.
But the Flyers got a final power play when Cizikas was called for high sticking with 2:45 left in regulation. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol pulled his goalie and Philadelphia cashed in on the 6-on-4 advantage when Matt Read took a hard rebound off the boards and beat Halak from just outside the crease.
“They called it a penalty, it’s a penalty,” Cizikas said. “I guess I’ve got to be aware of where my stick is going there. It’s a tough call.”
The game was all even at 2-2 after 60 minutes and headed into overtime. The Flyers had another chance on the power play in the extra session when Jason Chimera was called for holding but Halak and the Islanders penalty killers managed to keep the Flyers off the board despite extended zone time and six shots on goal in the extra session.
In the shootout, Neuvirth and Halak traded saves before Giroux came in slowly and made several fakes before depositing the puck into the empty net behind the beaten Islanders goalie.
“We’ve got to find a way to close out games,” Cizikas said. “This is the fourth game where we’ve lost it or let the other team tie it in the last couple of minutes of the game. Those are four games or a possible eight points that we could have and that changes where we are in the standings.”
The Islanders return to action Saturday night when they face the high-powered Edmonton Oilers at Barclays Center.
The goal by Seidenberg gave the Islanders seven straight games with at least one goal by a defenseman. The Isles lead the NHL with 11 goals this season by their blueliners.
Ryan Strome and Calvin de Haan each played in their 200th career NHL game tonight.
The shots fired at goal were very one-sided with Philadelphia registering 79 shots at the Islanders net (shots on goal plus blocked shots plus wide shots) while the Islanders registered only 43.
Official attendance was 11,119.
The Islanders outhit the Flyers 30-14 led by Seidenberg’s six hits and Cal Clutterbuck’s five.