Josh Bailey registered his 100th NHL point and recorded his first game-winning goal since December of 2010 with his goal in the second period, as the Islanders beat the Flyers by a 4-1 count on Thursday night.
John Tavares had two assists to extend his point streak, while Evgeni Nabokov stopped 40 saves for the win to snap the Islanders’ eight-game losing streak to the Flyers. New York also put to rest a 13-game losing streak in Philadelphia which stretched as far back as a 4-2 victory on April 7, 2007.
Matt Read scored the Flyers’ lone goal of the game and took over the NHL rookie lead in goal scoring, but it wasn’t nearly enough to rescue Sergei Bobrovsky, who took the loss with 23 saves.
Addressing the need to provide some of their own offensive pressure after several solid Flyer shifts, Matt Moulson showcased his soccer skills to put the puck past Bobrovsky in the middle of the first period. He’d redirected a Tavares centering pass off his skate and in but a tell-tale sign was the lack of celebration from his teammates. The War Room in Toronto reviewed the play and decided the forward used a distinct kicking motion to net the goal.
Minutes after the unfavorable call for the Isles, Erik Gustafsson set up Brayden Schenn with a chance that was denied by Nabokov for the goaltender’s second crucial save of the game.
For the final 3:15 of the period, the Flyers turned the puck over numerous times in their defensive zone and escaped with a 0-0 score. Bobrovsky came up with a huge save on a Tavares breakout to keep it scoreless.
To open the middle period, Moulson found the back of the net, and this time it was completed through legal actions.
As Tavares went behind Philly’s net, the forward provided an excellent forehand pass to the slot that passed by Kyle Okposo and reached Moulson, who put home a shot past Bob’s blocker from between the circles for his 22nd goal of the season 28 seconds in.
Grabner nearly gave the Isles a two-goal advantage with a shorthanded breakaway. While Nino Niederreiter sat in the box for high-sticking, Grabner tried gliding the puck in between Bob’s legs for New York’s second goal of the game. Bobrovsky stopped the puck, as the Flyers continued a power play that produced six shots. Two of them reached the net, as Philly failed to convert with the man advantage.
Minutes later, Andrej Meszaros was called for elbowing on Grabner at the Flyers’ blue line. Thanks to strong penalty killing from Sean Couturier and Read, Philly was able to shorten New York’s man advantage. After Couturier blocked his shot from the point, Mark Streit tripped the rookie to create four-on-four play for 24 seconds.
During the four-on-four scenario and the Flyers’ power play, Jagr had a pair of scoring chances, while Tavares had another breakaway denied by Bobrovsky. Tavares faked a slap shot before letting go of a wrist shot that was denied by the bottom of Bob’s blocker.
Minutes later, Tavares missed on another great opportunity, as he led a 3-on-1 odd man rush for New York. Drawing Bobrovsky out with several quick dekes, Tavares had a shot denied by the sprawled goalie’s left leg resulting in the puck inches away from the goal line in the crease. With Bobrovsky sliding away from the puck and leaving the net wide open, Voracek swooped in to hit the puck to safety.
When the whistle blew seconds later due to a Nabokov cover-up, Dylan Reese was called for holding to give Philly their second power play of the period.
In a scenario that favored the Flyers to tie the game, Bailey potted his fourth goal of the season 14 seconds into New York’s penalty kill.
A Kimmo Timonen pass was deflected into the neutral zone, where Bailey gained possession of it and completed a backhander top-shelf over Bob’s glove, as the Islanders finally converted on their slew of scoring chances during the second period to extend their lead to two goals.
Angered by the combination of how the game was going, his scoring drought, and an exchange of plays with Reese, Claude Giroux engaged in his fourth NHL fight (his third during the regular season).
As the puck left the Islanders’ zone, Giroux and Reese both looked for a call from the refs before Reese nudged Giroux with his stick. Taking offense, Giroux whacked Reese’s leg before the players dropped their gloves and took part in a fight that was more hugging than punching.
The Orange and Black definitely threw more pucks at the net than the Isles, as they out shot New York 17-9 in the middle stanza, but the Islanders definitely had better scoring chances. In addition to his breakaway in the first period, Tavares had an odd-man rush in the second period and one of the Islanders’ three shorthanded breakaway chances in the period.
The Flyers received the first power play in the third period, as P.A. Parenteau broke Read’s stick with a slash in the slot with 15:46 left.
Despite several blasts from the point and a lot of offensive pressure, Nabokov helped the Isles kill off the man advantage with two saves.
Shortly after Parenteau’s minor, Schenn and Okposo took coincidental roughing minors before Timonen tripped Tavares to give New York a 4-on-3 power play.
Utilizing the man advantage, Streit ripped a shot from the middle of the circle furthest from the benches that beat Bob between his right arm and hip for the defenseman’s third goal of the season. The goal gave Philly a 3-0 deficit with 12:53 remaining.
Following an Okposo shot that was gloved down by Bobrovksy shortly after Streit’s goal, Couturier and Read connected for Philly’s first goal of the game.
Entering the Islanders’ zone, Meszaros tapped the puck to Couturier in the middle of the faceoff circle furthest from the benches, who released a hard shot aimed towards Nabokov’s glove. Crashing the crease, Read deflected the puck below Nabokov’s glove for his 14th of the season 10:48 into the third period.
Read’s goal started the Flyers’ offensive onslaught.
A barrage of shots, which featured Jaromir Jagr dipsy-doodling through the entire Islanders’ squad and a Read shot that missed cutting the deficit to one by mere inches, followed for Philly as they tried to tie the game in the final 10 minutes.
Unfortunately for Philly, their late-game dominance wasn’t enough, as Grabner potted the empty-netter with less than a second left for a 4-1 final.
The Flyers may have not played their best game, but you have to give credit where credit is due. Tonight, Tavares and Nabokov led the Islanders to a win to snap the Flyers’ eight-game winning streak over New York. Tavares created a handful of scoring chances for teammates and had several breakaways of his own, while Nabokov had a 15-save third period for his fourth one-goal performance of the season.
Bobrovsky, despite three goals against, couldn’t have done anything else to give the Flyers’ a chance to win. Stopping several breakaway opportunities and odd-man rushes from New York, Bobrovsky didn’t receive much help from the Flyers’ offense.
The Flyers look to move on from tonight’s loss with their game Saturday afternoon against the Devils in New Jersey.
Notes: The Flyers suffered their first loss to the Isles since their 6-4 setback at Long Island on April 1, 2010…With his assist on Moulson’s second period goal, Tavares extended his point streak to 11 games. He has six goals and 13 assists during the streak…Nabokov earned his first 40-save performance of the season tonight. It’s the first time he has recorded 40 saves in a game since he made 40 saves in the Sharks’ 8-5 win on March 11, 2010…With his goal in the second period, Bailey notched his 100th career point. He has 38 goals and 62 points…This is the sixth time all season the Flyers have posted 40 shots or more. This the third time they’ve lost when posting 40 shots or more…Steve Staios was a healthy scratch tonight. In the teams’ last meeting, he laid an elbow to Talbot’s head…This is Bobrovsky’s first career loss to the Islanders. He is now 7-1-0 against the Isles…The Flyers dropped to 2-1-0 against the Islanders and 5-4-1 (NYR 0-3-0, NJD 1-0-1, PIT 2-0-0, NYI 2-1-0) against the rest of the Atlantic Division this season…The Flyers dropped to 27-14-4 plust tonight. They were 29-11-5 after 45 games last season.