James van Riemsdyk helped the Flyers end a two-game skid tonight by recording his first career hat-trick as Philly rolled to a 4-1 win over the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
In addition to JVR’s three-goal night, both Jeff Carter and Claude Giroux had two points on Saturday. Scoring the opening goal, Carter assisted on JVR’s hat-trick tally in the third while Giroux posted two assists. Sergei Bobrovsky notched his second straight one-goal game, saving 36 of 37 on the night.
The win pushed the Flyers over the 100-point mark on the season as their record sits at 45-19-10. The Orange and Black head home Sunday to face Northeast-leading Boston with a two-point lead over Washington in the race for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
All season long, there’s been a bit of bad blood between these two teams. The opening minute of tonight’s game illustrated this point with Daniel Carcillo dropping the gloves with Micheal Haley two seconds into the game and Sean O’Donnell mixing it up with Zenon Konopka nineteen seconds later. Neither team showed a sign of gaining momentum after the scraps.
Minutes after the brawling, Carter went to the box for holding. As the penalty time expired, he made up for his mistake breaking the scorless tie just over eight minutes into the game. After Giroux won a face-off to Rick DiPietro’s right, Carter let a shot rip that found its way to the back of the net for his 34th goal of the season.
It took New Jersey native van Riemsdyk only 22 seconds to turn a one-goal lead into two. Tipping in a Kris Versteeg shot, van Riemsdyk netted his 17th of the season. The goal, coming so shortly after Carter’s, seemed as though it was going to make the game a blowout. However, the Isles weren’t giving up so quickly.
Blake Comeau put home a backhander at the left post off a Josh Bailey rebound for his 21st of the season and an Islanders’ deficit of one just after the midway point of the first. Coming just under two minutes after van Riemsdyk’s goal, Comeau put his team right back in the thick of things.
Unfortunately for Comeau and company, JVR’s second goal of the period came within the next three minutes giving Philly another two-goal lead. JVR’s 18th of the year gave him his first two-goal game since December 15th, and came after he was perfectly positioned on the left wing to tap-in an Andrej Meszaros misfire from the right wing that rebounded off the back boards with 6:35 left before intermission.
The Flyers eventually found themselves with a 3-1 lead after 20 minutes, a lead they wouldn’t cough up.
Picking up his second infraction on the night, Carter was sent off for slashing 7:35 into the middle period. Unable to produce a goal with the man advantage, the Islanders still trailed Philly by two goals.
Minutes later, Kimmo Timonen found himself in the box for a questionable cross checking call. For the fourth time on the night, the Isles power-play unit couldn’t find the back of the net.
Bobrovsky outplayed his counterpart in Rick DiPietro for the second straight period. After outsaving DiPietro 16-11 in the first period, Bobrovsky made fifteen in the second — including a diving stop on Kyle Okposo after a defensive miscommunication produced a 2-on-none break in close.
DiPietro only had to keep four shots out of his net as the Islanders were on the attack.
A rather boring first half of the third period ended after van Riemsdyk’s third goal on the night. With Radek Martinek sitting in the sin bin for holding, JVR was the benefactor of a lucky bounce that saw the puck slide to him standing wide open in the low slot. Taking advantage, van Riemsdyk blasted home his 19th of the season through DiPietro’s pads to give the visitors a 4-1 advantage.
With the game essentially over, Matt Martin displayed his frustration with his team trailing 4-1 in the third by fighting O’Donnell. Three minutes hadn’t passed before Martin engaged in a fight that resulted in nothing but useless punches finding O’Donnell’s back.
The final eight minutes in regulation went eventless as the Flyers beat the Islanders for the fifth time this season.
Looking for a way to wake up their teammates, both Carcillo and O’Donnell helped to amp up the Flyers tonight. Fighting very early in the game helped to set the game’s tone and helped the Flyers ramp up their energy level. If they had not fought tonight, tonight’s big story might be the Flyers giving up the lead in the conference.
Bobrovsky had his second strong start in a row providing two fifteen-save periods. After being the only reason the Flyers gained a point on Thursday, Bobrovsky came through with several big saves tonight. Bob needs to have performances similar to tonight’s and Thursday’s game if the Flyers want to see the deeper rounds of the playoffs.
Notes: The Flyers have won 20 of their last 21 meetings with the Islanders outscoring them 76-39 in that span…JVR’s hat trick was his first in 145 career games…Tonight’s win was the Flyers first game that hadn’t reached overtime since their 3-2 decision in Florida on March 15th…O’Donnell had his first two fight night since Philly’s 6-2 loss in Vancouver on December 28th…The Flyers reached the 100-point plateau for the first time since the 2005-2006 season (101 pts, 45-26-11) and for the 18th time in franchise history…The Flyers are now 5-0-0 against the Islanders on the season and upped their record to 15-3-2 against the Atlantic division (PIT 3-1-1, NYR 4-1-0, NJD 3-1-1).