It took until Game 82, but the Philadelphia Flyers at last became the champions of the Atlantic Division.
Andrej Meszaros registered a career high of four points on two goals and two assists, as the Flyers concluded the regular season with a 7-4 victory over the New York Islanders at Wells Fargo Center.
Scott Hartnell joined Meszaros with pair of tallies for Philadelphia (47-23-12), which clinched its first division crown in seven years and locked up the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers will host Buffalo in the opening round of the playoffs beginning later this week.
“It was a long season. It was a great regular season. The last few weeks weren’t that great but overall it was pretty good,” Meszaros said. “Starting now, it is a new season and everybody is excited. Everybody is getting ready for the first game.”
Kimmo Timonen and Danny Briere also scored for the Flyers, who snapped their winless streak at five games with a 13th straight home win over the Islanders. Philadelphia swept the season series and has now won 21 of the last 22 meetings with New York.
Flyers rookie Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled after allowing three goals on 10 shots in the first period. Brian Boucher made 25 saves in nearly 48 minutes to snag the win — the second straight season he has been able to help Philly in its final regular-season contest.
John Tavares had a goal and two helpers for the Islanders (30-39-13), who finished in the Atlantic Division basement for the fourth straight season.
Rick DiPietro, making his 300th career start, stopped 32 of the 38 shots he faced.
“We got a young group, we got a lot of injuries this year, but again an opportunity to see these young guys play different situations and play a lot of minutes and gain that necessary experience going forward. That is we feel. Tonight after this game we are optimistic for the future,” DiPietro said.
Hartnell fired a shot under the crossbar to put the Flyers up 5-4 with 1:31 remaining in the second period. Meszaros lit the lamp again on a power play at 9:40 of the third before Darroll Powe hit an empty net in the dying seconds.
The Flyers got off to an ideal start against a club they’ve dominated in recent years, scoring twice before the game was even a minute old.
DiPietro, a goalie who never shies away from playing the puck, turned it over and Timonen unloaded a slap shot from the high slot 16 seconds into the contest.
Hartnell then beat the former No. 1 overall pick on a breakaway, knocking down Ville Leino’s stretch pass and firing a wrister high on the glove side 31 seconds later.
Philadelphia appeared to grab a 3-0 lead just past the four-minute mark of the first period, but the official ruled that Jeff Carter used a kicking motion to propel the puck across the goal line.
Seemingly invigorated by the no-goal call, the Islanders pulled even on tallies from rookies Michael Grabner and Travis Hamonic. Grabner used his tremendous speed to track down a loose puck and slip it behind Bobrovsky on a breakaway at 7:01, then Hamonic one-timed a Tavares pass for a power-play goal at 9:31.
The Flyers, though, moved ahead 19 seconds later on Briere’s career-high 34th goal of the season. Tavares scored on a tap-in to tie the game with 7:55 remaining in the opening frame.
On a power play, P.A. Parenteau buried a rebound 53 seconds into the second period to give New York its first lead of the game at 4-3. Philadelphia drew even when Meszaros let go a wrister from the right circle that made its way through traffic with eight minutes gone in the frame.
Notes: Philly’s 106 points was the highest single-season point total since a 107-point campaign in 2002-03…The Flyers snapped a six-game losing streak at home…New York forward Matt Moulson had two assists…Philadelphia was 1-for-5 on the power play, while the Islanders were 2-for-6 with the man advantage.