After a road trip where they were shut out twice, the Flyers came home and handled the New York Islanders for a 6-3 win tonight. Matt Read, Claude Giroux, and Andrej Meszaros each recorded three-point performances, while Ilya Bryzgalov made 21 saves for the victory.
Read, who ended a 12-game goal drought, had a pair of crucial tallies tonight.
“It was a little struggle there for the last month,” Read said. “I just know I’ve got to work hard, keep working hard and things are going to start going my way. Two good plays by Mez (Meszaros) and Simmer (Wayne Simmonds) tonight.”
Kimmo Timonen recorded his 500th career point in the NHL with his assist on Jaromir Jagr’s goal in the second period. The assist was Timonen’s 199th point as a Flyer.
Meszaros also reached a milestone in the win, as he reached 200 points in his NHL career. With his seventh goal of the season and a pair of assists, Meszaros now has 57 regular season points as a Flyer.
Unfortunately, the win wasn’t all good news, as James van Riemsdyk left the game with a broken bone in his left foot. As he dropped to the ice late in the first period to block a Milan Jurcina slap shot, JvR took the blast directly to his skate and hobbled off the ice.
Josh Bailey scored twice and Kyle Okposo once for the Islanders, who were denied a sweep in Philadelphia for the first time since winning four here in 2006-07. Unlike his previous two starts in Philly, Evgeni Nabokov didn’t find his groove, allowing five goals on 29 shots for the loss.
For a third straight game, the Flyers’ found themselves in a hole early thanks to a soft goal.
After he stopped Bailey’s original shot, Bryzgalov couldn’t deny the rebound thanks to an inattentive defense for an Islanders’ lead 1:35 into the contest.
Mark Streit fell over in the corner of the Flyers’ zone before he moved the puck to Casey Cizikas below the goal line, who managed to get the puck to Bailey at the bottom of the circles. Bailey, after he had his first shot stopped by Bryz and was pestered by Max Talbot, put home his own rebound to score for a second straight game.
New York dominated the next few minutes before Peter Laviolette called a timeout to settle down his troops. As usual, the timeout from Laviolette was effective, as the Flyers tied the game minutes later.
Meszaros caught a pass from Giroux at the point, where he slowly motioned a slap shot gesture. Instead of a shot, Meszaros slapped a pass to Read, who was at the top of the crease and tipped the puck in for his 17th goal of the season.
In the final minute of the period, the Flyers’ offensive pressure led to a Streit holding minor. With the Isles’ defenseman in the box, Philly capitalized to experience a lead in regulation for the first time since their win in Winnipeg last week.
Another slap of the puck from Meszaros resulted in a goal, as his shot 50 seconds before the first intermission found its way into the net. Meszaros’ blast hit the near post, then Nabokov’s backside, and then slid over the goal line to put Philly up before the end of the first 20 minutes.
Within the first minute of the middle stanza, the Islanders’ tied the game at two thanks to Bailey’s second goal of the game.
Streit was deep in the offensive zone again when he eluded a sliding Flyers’ defenseman before he moved the puck to Frans Nielsen in the middle of the circle to his right. Nielsen quickly tapped the puck across the ice to Bailey, who was wide open. With Bryzgalov centered towards Nielsen, Bailey had no challenge to put home the game-tying goal.
Halfway through the period, a pair of goals in a short span from the Flyers restored their lead, as they held a 4-2 advantage after 40 minutes of play.
Jagr entered the zone with the puck on his backhand. As he moved past several Islanders with the faceoff circle to his left and the boards to his right, Jagr circled around the net before he backhanded a shot towards Nabokov. The puck squeaked through the Islanders’ five-hole for his 17th goal of the season 8:58 into the middle period.
“It was a lucky shot,” Jagr said. “I was looking for the rebound and it went in.”
Just 39 seconds later, Read potted his second goal of the game.
Wayne Simmonds carried the puck into the offensive zone along with Meszaros and Read. As the trio crossed the blue line, Simmonds hit Read with a cross-ice pass just as the rookie reached the outside of the crease. Read’s second redirection clipped Nabokov’s arm before it entered the cage to give the Flyers a two-goal advantage.
The pair of quick goals gave the Flyers momentum, as they dictated play for the remainder of the period and finished the with strong cycling before the second intermission.
“They were coming hard. I will give them credit. After the first five minutes they came out harder, started putting everything in the net, and I felt they did a great job around the net too,” Nabokov admitted. “I think for us the key was the physical play. If we would have been more physical, I think we could have got some things off, but sometimes you’ve got to give credit where they played really well.”
In the third period, it was the Flyers who struck early, as they extended their lead to three.
Scott Hartnell was in the slot when he grabbed a Giroux rebound off a Nabokov kick-save and blasted home his 31st goal of the season. Hartnell, who set a new career high for goals in a season, seemed to put the game away for the hosts. The Islanders, however, had other plans.
Cizikas’ work below the goal line led to another goal, as he found Okposo in the middle of the circle furthest from the benches for a one-timer that was blown past Bryzgalov. Okposo’s 14th of the season made it a two-goal game with 10:49 left.
In the midst of the Islanders’ surge, Braydon Coburn was called for interference after he laid out John Tavares, with under five minutes remaining.
The Flyers successfully killed the penalty, as Bryzgalov made a key save on a Matt Moulson redirection to keep the Flyers’ two-goal lead intact.
With the Islanders’ pressure slowing late, and with Nabokov on the bench, Sean Couturier banked a shot off Okposo and into the empty cage to give Philly the 6-3 win at home.
The Flyers look for back-to-back wins for the first time since the middle of January with their game Sunday night in Washington against the Capitals.
Notes: Jagr moved alone into eighth place on the NHL’s all-time points list with 1,643, two more than Joe Sakic…This is the ninth straight game the Flyers have allowed the game’s first goal…Read’s goal in the first period ended a 82:20 goalless stretch for the Flyers. It also ended a drought of 83:53 for the Flyers against the Islanders…Pavel Kubina recorded his first point as a Flyer with his primary assist on Jagr’s goal in the second period…Meszaros’ ended his 21-game goal drought with his goal in the first period. Couturier ended his 17-game goal drought with the empty-net goal…Tonight was Giroux’s ninth game of the season where he registered three points or more. It was Read’s third three-point game of the season and Meszaros’ first three-point game of 2011-12…Tonight was the Flyers’ first regulation win since their 7-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on February 16th…Cizikas recorded his first point in the NHL with his assist on Bailey’s opening goal…The Flyers improved to 3-1-1 against the Islanders and to 7-8-2 against the Atlantic Division on the season…The Flyers improved to 35-21-7. They were 40-17-6 after 63 games last season.