The Philadelphia Flyers have experienced difficulty generating offense in the early going this season, but Vincent Lecavalier provided more than enough Saturday night.
Lecavalier recorded his fourth career hat trick and Steve Mason made 26 saves to lead the Flyers to a 5-2 win against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Philadelphia (3-7-0) entered Saturday with 13 goals in nine games and had not scored more than two in any game -- a total the Flyers exceeded before the end of the first period. Jakub Voracek and Matt Read also scored for the Flyers, who won their first road game in four tries this season. They have won 16 times in their past 19 visits to Long Island.
"I think overall tonight, it was a great confidence-booster for everybody," Lecavalier said. "Getting four or five goals, it feels good to get more than two goals. That's all we've done this year is scored two, so to get a little bit more offense off of us playing well defensively, it paid off tonight. We've got to keep going in that direction."
Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen scored for the Islanders (4-4-3), who were unable to build off an impressive road win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night. New York fell to 2-2-3 on home ice and is 0-2-1 in its past three games at the Coliseum.
Lecavalier gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead via the power play 4:30 into the game. AfterAndrew MacDonald was whistled for hooking, former Islanders captain Mark Streit sent a pass from the left point towards the right circle for Lecavalier, who one-timed a shot that went off Travis Hamonic's stick and past Kevin Poulin, who made his first start in 15 days. It was Lecavalier's second goal of the season.
Poulin stopped 27 of 31 shots for New York.
"I don't care about your goals or what your stats are, you have to play hard," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "You guys watched the game tonight and you saw some of the battles that we lost, and we can't have that. You've got to battle for one another, and that's the frustrating part for me. You've got to have all 20 guys going, and tonight we didn't."
Voracek doubled Philadelphia's lead one minute later with his first goal of the season. With the teams back at even strength, he cruised through the Islanders' zone, made a move around defenseman Matt Carkner and fired a wrist shot past Poulin to make it 2-0. It marked the second time this season the Flyers have had a two-goal lead.
Okposo cut the deficit in half at 10:16. Not long after Michael Grabner's slap shot from the left circle was denied, Thomas Hickey made a nice backhand pass from along the wall to Okposo in the slot, and the latter fired a slap shot through traffic and past Mason to make it 2-1.
Lecavalier scored his second goal of the game with 1:47 remaining in the first. Michael Raffl took a long feed from Streit and skated into the zone before sending a nice backhand feed to Lecavalier, who had his initial shot stopped by Poulin before stuffing the rebound over the goal line. Philadelphia took a two-goal lead into an intermission for the first time this season.
"We wanted to have a good start, especially [because] they played yesterday," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "I think it was important for us to get a good start."
Nielsen continued his torrid start with a shorthanded goal 10:30 into the second period. With Grabner serving a slashing penalty, Nielsen took a pass from Peter Regin and backhanded a shot past Mason to make it 3-2. It was Nielsen's team-leading seventh goal and 15th point of the season. He has a goal in four straight games.
The Flyers received a scare with 5:43 left in the second period, when Zac Rinaldo took Braydon Coburn's shot from the point in the helmet. Rinaldo got up quickly and headed straight for the dressing room. He returned with a shield for the start of the third period.
Philadelphia, which entered Saturday having been outscored 12-3 in the third period this season, restored its two-goal lead on Lecavalier's third goal of the night at 8:53. With the teams at even strength, Lecavalier stripped Hickey of the puck at the Flyers' blue line to start a rush the other way. Giroux sent a pass from the left circle towards the slot, where Lecavalier swatted the puck past Poulin to make it 4-2.
Read sealed it for Philadelphia with an empty-net goal at 18:28 of the third. It was his second goal of the season.
"We're just sloppy in our own end," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "When we're playing well in our own end, we win a lot of puck battles and our D are jumping in the play and we're able to create a lot of odd-man opportunities and put pressure on the opponent. We have just been sloppy."