ISLANDERS 4 FLYERS 3 (SO) — Scary moments, but Isles continue playoff push

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Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 10.19.52 PMIt wasn’t pretty and they did blow a lead late but the Isles were able to get this thing to overtime — and eventually the shootout — and for the first time this season they have a three game winning streak.  With Carolina losing the Isles have a three point lead on them (Carolina has a game in hand) and are behind the Rangers (who lost to Ottawa) based on points percentage despite having the same amount of points (35) on the season (Rangers have a game in hand also). Standings here.

It was a tentative start for both teams with only one shot combined through the first three minutes.  The Flyers got going when Lubomir Visnovsky took an interference penalty, tripping Simmonds at 3:47.  Scott Hartnell capitalized, knuckling a shot off a Claude Giroux pass that eluded Nabokov’s pads.  It looked to be a softie.  Shortly after the goal, the broadcast indicated the Flyers are 10-4-1 when scoring first and most Isles fans are aware of what happens when the Isles are scored on first over the last couple of years.  Gloom was setting in early.

A few minutes later, Colin McDonald tried to change the momentum when he challenged Hartnell to a fight.  McDonald appeared to lose on points, but it’s an exchange the Isles will always take.

The Flyers’ second goal will be blamed on Thomas Hickey for his turnover near the Isles bench, but the culprits were many in my opinion.  The entire forward line appeared to be leisurely heading for a change and left Hickey without an outlet other than to ice the puck.  Upon the turnover, Visnovsky played the shooter, Couturier, who dished off to Mike Knuble.  Knuble barely had to make a move because Nabokov basically slid out of the frame and past the shot and Knuble just tucked it into the vacated net.

The Islanders generated a ton of pressure at the end of the period and Andrew MacDonald had a late goal waved off because it was scored as time expired after a furious goal mouth scramble.  It was a promising sign again delivered by the second line.

For a team down 2-0, the Isles certainly didn’t come out in the second period the way you would want to see.  The Flyers got the first 7 shots of the period and the Isles were down 9-1 halfway through.  The Tavares/Boyes/Moulson did not have their first shots of the game until the Islanders were granted a power play at 9:43 on a Kurtis Foster cross-check. That power play did not help much.

Prior to that power play, Coach Capuano did so much line shuffling that it was difficult to figure out what the combinations actually were. Some incarnations were:

  • Aucoin/Moulson/Cizikas (Aucoin replaced by Bailey) resulted in a decent forechek and a good point shot by Streit that went through Bryz’s glove.  Moulson had his stick slashed in half on the rebound with no call.
  • McDonald/Martin/Tavares drew a power play.
  • Arthur Staple of newday tweeted: “Capuano does major line shuffle — Boyes, Boulton dumped from rotation, remaining 10 working hard, generate PP at 9:43.”
  • Boyes/Tavares/Grabner
  • Aucoin/Grabner/McDonald

The Isles got a late period goal to cut the deficit to 2-1.  They took the puck  at center, Moulson dished a pass to Boyes that went off Gervais and to a vacated area where John Tavares pounced and sent a backhander past an out of position Bryzgalov. The shot looked to deflect off a Flyers’ skate.

The Flyers’ took a late penalty to Luke Schenn for dumping Nabby behind the net right at the 20 minute mark so the Isles started the third on the power play.

That PP was largely perimeter and the Isles failed to take advantage of a stickless Bryz.  Mark Streit in particular (and for a lot of this season) seems reluctant or tentative shooting when he has clear opportunities.  On this sequence in particular, he opted for passes to players in worse angles.

At some point, the Flyers lost Coburn for the balance of the game to an upper body injury of some sort, further decimating the already thin Flyer blue line.

Colin McDonald tied it up when the Isles forced a turnover off a solid forecheck. Michael Grabner got the puck to Keith Aucoin behind the Flyer goal to Bryz’s right.  He passed out to McDonald in the slot who quickly blasted it by the Flyer goaltender.

Less than a minute later, old friend Bruno Gervais gave the Isles a power play by taking a delay of game penalty.  The power play was largely ineffectual until the last 30 seconds when PP unit three was out.  The Aucoin/McDonald/Grabner line were very lively with a great forecheck.  They were getting to loose pucks and generally running the Flyer D ragged.

Colin McDonald got his second of the game a few minutes later off a long screened shot that was tipped by the Flyers D to give the Isles a 3-2 lead. And the Isles went into lockdown mode…and it appeared to be working this time until a terrible penalty by Frans Nielsen for playing the puck with his hand off a defensive zone faceoff with 1:32 left in the game and the Flyers’ goalie pulled.

That Flyers power play resulted in a crazy goal mouth scramble that Hartnell poked in with 27 seconds left to tie the game.

The Flyers tried to give it right back when Luke Schenn took an interference at the end of regulation that carried over into overtime.

Again, the Isles power play was stagnant with little movement on the 4-on-3 with JT/MM/LV/MS, Capuano called timeout to regroup.  It didn’t help.  The Isles were tentative on all of their shots if they took them.

Tavares took a brilliant holding penalty to prevent a scoring chance with less than three seconds left.  There is no penalty in the shootout obviously, so the Isles didn’t recover the puck for the penalty to ever initiate.  Even if they had, by the time the faceoff was taken, it would have been too late to do anything.

Shootout:

  • Read-wrist shot saved
  • Nielsen-Backhand of Judgement missed high
  • Giroux-toe drag goal
  • Boyes- wrist shot goal high glove
  • B. Schenn-terrible facsimile of backhand of judgement saved
  • Tavares-wrist shot saved
  • Simmonds-head fake twitchery saved
  • Bailey-wrist shot goal!

Noticings:

  • Vis’ point shots seem to get through far more than everyone elses.
  • Butch talked about the Flyers’ captain (Claude Giroux) being a -10 and how that was indicative of how the Flyers’ were playing as a team.  Perhaps not recognizing the Isles captain toting a -14 into this game.  Not that I (or he really) put any stock into that stat.
  • Tavares moved past Radio Ray Ferraro on the Isles all time scoring list according to the team statistician, Eric Hornick.
  • Coach Thompson has the strategy for success.
  • Next up is Jarome Iginla and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  A daunting task for this team to extend their winning streak.  We call on the ghosts of Richie Pilon, Jeff Norton and David Volek for help.
  • The top line finished with 4 shots amongst them (not enough).  The breakdown; JT-3, MM-1, BB-0.  They’ll need more.
  • Lubo had an Isles high 27:50 toi while Luke Schenn had 28:04 (Gervais had over 23 minutes also).  Whenever you think your defense has problems, think Flyers.
  • Eric Boulton had over six minutes, our goalie got run, and Colin McDonald fought. Yep.
  • Three goals at even strength!