Isles lose 2-1 to Philly, drop to the 8th seed

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The first period since “The Clinch” was a bit of a let-down.  And it got a little worse.  For all the platitudes about “still work to do” and things to play for, this game didn’t show it.  Maybe it was the changes in personnel, or perhaps they played a more conservative system (they certainly didn’t generate a lot of shots and the zone entries were ugly) who knows.  But the Islanders were outplayed by the Philadelphia Flyers for their first regulation loss in April, and with the outcome of the Rangers and Ottawa OT wins, drop back to the 8th seed and no longer own tiebreakers or control their fate.

The Isles were outshot by the Flyers 13-4 and were dominated for large stretches of the first.  There was a lot of stick reaching and stationary feet.  The Islanders did have a couple of decent chances though, but Ilya Bryzgalov was good on those limeted shots.

About a minute in, a long shot by Wayne Simmonds rang off the post past Poulin and caromed away.  It didn’t look like he saw it through some bodies.

The broadcast noticed that Kyle Okposo had squared off to fight Erik Gustafsson, but there was no video footage of the event.  Playoff Okposo is the best Okposo (Playoffposo?).

Eric Boulton took a bad/unnecessary cross-checking penalty at the 9:23 mark and the Flyers were able to capitalize on the opportunity.  Josh Bailey had a shorthanded scoring chance early in the PK after some nice boards work.  Bailey came in off the right wing and fired a wrister that Bryzgalov turned away with his pad.  Just after that, a failed Matt Carkner clear was kept in, fed down low to Brayden Schenn, and Schenn put it across the net to Poulin’s left for Daniel Briere to bang in.  Numerous Isles were caught out of position on the play.

The Flyers controlled play for the next little while, but chances were exchanged at the end of the period as the Isles showed some vital signs.  Okposo was able to beat Luke Schenn off the left wing for a good shot that the broadcast indicated may have caught some post (along with some Bryzgalov).  Poulin also was active and floppy, but effective in stopping a Flyer chance as the Isles scrambled.  The puck trickled behind him and was corralled and cleared by Casey Cizikas.

The Isles closed the period with the first line getting a great chance as Lubomir Visnovsky fed Tavares in the slot who wheeled a backhand pass to Moulson who got an uncontested backhand off on Bryzgalov who got it with the glove.

They had a better period in the second, but it was still not what we’ve gotten used to seeing during the streak.  The Isles were able to tie the score off a great sequence by Matt Carkner.  He laid a heavy hit at the Isles blue line creating a turnover.  That was grabbed up by John Tavares and he gained the Flyers blue line, and dished to Carkner who had joined the rush.  Carkner let off a slow shot/pass toward the net that deflected off a Flyer and Tavares tipped it past the outstretched right leg of Bryzgalov.

The first line had a couple of successive shifts where they generated pressure after that, but a Travis Hamonic high stick broke up some of the momentum the Isles gained.  During that penalty kill, Claude Giroux rang one off the post.

A couple of minutes after that, Scott Hartnell took a high stick and then laid a heavy hit on Okposo and Carkner stepped in to defend his teammate. Hartnell was given a rough on the Okposo hit (according to the Yahoo boxscore), and Carkner negated that with a rough on Hartnell.  The power play moved the puck relatively well, but did not get off enough shots (and there was little in the way of quality.

The remainder of the period was very sloppy and there was a lot of play in the neutral zone with jumping pucks and mishandled passes. It seemed as if the Isles were receiving a lot of passes either on their backhand or while they weren’t facing the net or in a good shooting position.  That trend continued throughout the remainder of the second.

On the period, the Isles outshot the Flyers 8-6. The broadcast had the scoring chances through two at Flyers 9, Isles 6, but I’m not sure what scoring chance criteria is for the broadcast and those are often subjective.

The third got off to a good start and that gave some hope that the Isles would continue their recent third period magic. Aucoin had a steal (which could have possible been a penalty) and fed McDonald for a good wrist shot that Bryzgalov gloved.  That was followed by some effective cycling, but some tough angle shots by the first line.  But, the Flyers when not forcing the Isles outside were getting a piece of their shots.

There was then a sloppy sequence by the entire third line and the Hamonic/McDonald pairing that had Kevin Poulin scrambling and falling out of position.  The D was able to somehow recover though and clear the loose pucks away.

Matt Martin was given a roughing penalty on a sequence that saw the Isles overreact to some shenanigans on Casey Cizikas.  All three Islanders went to the Flyers player for a hit and they cleared and gained the Isles zone.  Martin then floored Ruslan Fedotenko in the Isles corner which probably wouldn’t have drawn a call if it wasn’t so authoratative.

During that power play, the Flyers gained the momentum and really didn’t relinquish it for the rest of the game.

The Flyers gained the final advantage off of a big time Jake Voracek rush.  Poulin made a tremendous cross-crease save on Giroux after Voracek dished, but the puck found Oliver Lauridsen for a cannon blast past Poulin who finished the game with an erratic but effective 28 saves. The Flyers clamped down defensively after that and played an effective obstructionist type game.

Poulin was pulled with 1:41 left and the Isles generated some shots with the extra attacker (and several induced icings), but the shots were hardly threatening.

A disappointing night to be sure.  The Isles round out the regular season tomorrow night in Buffalo and will need a little help to avoid the juggernaut Penguins and the return of Sidney Crosby in the first round.