Evgeni Nabokov denied 45 shots in regulation and overtime before he stopped both of the Flyers’ shootout attempts to give the Islanders a 1-0 shootout win tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.
Frans Nielsen, who signed a four-year extension worth a reported $11 million with New York earlier on Tuesday, had the decisive goal in the shootout, as John Tavares also scored on his shootout attempt to keep Ilya Bryzgalov’s shootout woes this season intact.
Claude Giroux may have not produced a single point tonight, but it was one of his better performances of the season, as his line with Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell was the Flyers’ best line.
“(In the) past few games, when I get a chance they’re just not going in,” said Giroux. “The good news is we were all over them. We had a lot of shots and Bryz played well.”
In addition to his six shots on net, Giroux created scoring chances for others all night long as he watched his three-game point streak snapped in the loss.
Nielsen had the first shot in the shootout, as he deposited the goal that gave New York the additional point. With the puck on his forehand in the middle of the circles, he dropped his shoulder and made Bryzgalov drop to the ice. Nielsen then moved the puck to his backhand and ripped it high into what was essentially an open net.
He didn’t make a stop in the shootout, but Bryzgalov did his part to help the Flyers earn a point tonight with 18 saves. Philly’s netminder stopped odd-man rushes and made several crucial saves en route to his second shutout of the year.
Unfortunately for him, he went against Nabokov tonight, who had one of his best games ever and second spectacular performance here in a span of 3 weeks.
“Well, I think both goalies played well tonight,” said Danny Briere, who returned to the line-up tonight for the first time since January 21 due to a concussion. “You can’t fault Bryz. He played great, made some key saves in the first period especially. Both goalies were good.”
Although they didn’t exit the first period with a lead, the Flyers did have a better first period tonight than they did in their two losses over the weekend.
After being out scored 4-0 and out shot 31-12 in the first two periods of their last two games, the Flyers out shot the Isles 10-7 and provided more hustle than the Islanders. Philly also out hit the Isles 18-10 in the first 20 minutes.
Giroux showed confidence in the offensive zone, as he had three strong scoring chances in the opening period. After nearly whacking in a Jagr rebound and a shot from the point, Giroux whiffed on a one-timer attempt that would have required Nabokov to move across the crease quickly to keep the game goal-free.
Bryzgalov also had a strong first period, as he had to deny some odd-man rushes from the Isles early. His first save of the game was a sprawling kick-save on P.A. Parenteau. Thanks to a few turnovers in the defensive zone from his defenders, Bryzgalov was called upon to keep the game even.
Halfway through the second period, the Flyers were given the game’s first power play. Moving his way into the slot, Jagr was held by Mark Streit to put his team down a man at the 8:16 mark.
After the Islanders’ captain was freed from the box, Andrej Meszaros bobbled a clean cross-ice pass from Kimmo Timonen and turned the puck over to Josh Bailey. Meszaros then slashed Bailey’s stick out of his hands to prevent a breakaway, but earned himself a minor penalty.
The Flyers killed off the Islanders’ power play, and nearly scored the game’s first goal in the process. Recording another scoring chance, Giroux started a two-on-one rush with Max Talbot before he dropped a pass to Timonen, who picked up the puck at the middle of the circles. As Timonen glided behind Nabokov’s net, he backhanded a pass to Giroux, who just missed putting home his first shorthanded goal of the season with a shot that went high.
Shortly after Meszaros exited the sin bin, Timonen entered for an interference minor. For a second straight penalty kill, Giroux almost helped the Flyers to the game’s first goal. Although Philly didn’t capitalize on the chance, Giroux did draw a slashing minor to create four-on-four action.
Giroux led another shorthanded rush with Talbot, as he carried the puck just inside the Islanders’ blue line. Stopping at the top of the circles, Giroux slid a pass between the legs of an Isles’ defenseman to Talbot, who forced Nabokov to make an incredible sprawling save. Nabokov left a rebound at the top of the crease off of Talbot’s shot, but no Flyer was in the vicinity to put the puck home.
Seconds after Talbot’s chance, Giroux carried the puck behind Nabokov’s net and was hacked by Parenteau for some four-on-four action before a shortened Flyers’ power play.
Neither team scored four-on-four, as the Flyers’ power play, which lasted 90 seconds, failed to convert on their second opportunity of the game.
The Flyers closed out the middle stanza using the first 45 seconds of a power play due to a Matt Martin roughing minor. Several chances, including a Briere shot from the point that found Nabokov through traffic, couldn’t beat the fomer San Jose Shark, as the Flyers and Islanders headed into the final 20 minutes even at zero.
The Flyers were able to produce scoring chances in all situations, including the penalty kill. Nabokov was the main reason why the score was still tied after 40 minutes, along with Giroux narrowly missing several chances.
Bryzgalov was able to get across the crease just in time to deny a wrap-around attempt from Tavares in the second period, as most of the Isles’ seven shots in the middle period weren’t threatening.
The Flyers didn’t convert on the remaining time in Martin’s penalty, but they did dominate most of the third period. Unfortunately, the Flyers couldn’t put home any of their 13 shots in the first 14:45 of the period before Matt Carle was hit with a weak hooking call to send New York on the first power play of the period.
Tavares worked his way around Meszaros, but the refs said his scoring attempt was hindered by a hook from Carle.
Both teams came close to the game’s first goal, but neither team registered a goal while Carle was in the box.
The final 3:15 of the game, similar to the rest of the game, didn’t produce a goal, as the teams entered the overtime period in a scoreless affair.
Giroux, to no surprise, played a major role in the first scoring chance of the extra frame. Circling around the Islanders’ defense, Giroux dropped a pass to Jagr in the slot. The one-timer from the veteran was denied by Nabokov, as both teams failed to find the back of the net after 65 minutes leading to the Flyers’ sixth shootout of the season.
The Flyers hope they don’t run into another freak goaltending performance on Thursday, when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Notes: The Flyers have lost five of their last six home games (1-2-3)…This is the first time the Flyers have lost three consecutive games (0-2-1). It is the first time since Games 2, 3, and 4 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Semifinals that the Flyers have los three straight games…This is the first game all season the Flyers headed into the third period in a scoreless tie…The Flyers fell to 1-5 in the shootout this season and dropped to 5-7 in games decided beyond regulation this season…The Flyers streak of seven games with at least one power-play goal was snapped tonight…Tonight was the first 0-0 Flyers’ game through regulation since their 1-0 shootout win against the Calgary Flames on December 6, 2005…Bryzgalov didn’t allow a goal in the first 40 minutes for the second time in his last three starts…Nabokov’s 45 saves tonight is the most he has made in any game this season. It is also his career-high for saves in a shootout…This is the ninth game all season the Flyers have entered the third period tied. They are 5-0-4 in those games…Briere returned to the line-up tonight after missing six games with a concussion. He had two shots in 19:21 TOI, as well as a failed shootout attempt…Tonight’s first period was the first time since the third period of the win against Nashville where the Flyers didn’t record a penalty for an entire period…The Flyers dropped to 2-1-1 against the Islanders this season and to 6-6-2 against the rest of the Atlantic Division this season (NYR 0-4-0, PIT 2-0-0, NJD 2-1-1, NYI 2-1-1)…The Flyers dropped to 30-16-7. The Flyers were 35-13-5 after 53 games last season.