(Philadelphia, PA) – A pair of goals from Scottie Upshall and a shorthanded tally from Mike Richards was enough for the Flyers to extend their winning streak at home to six games, as they edged the visiting New York Islanders by a score of 3-2 on Monday night at the Wachovia Center.
With the score knotted at two apiece entering the third period, Richards broke out of the Flyers’ zone shorthanded on a two-on-one with R.J. Umberger and fired a shot on Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro. DiPietro made the initial save, but staying with the play, Richards knocked in his own rebound to put the Flyers up for good.
Mike Richards scores a shorthanded goal in the third period to lead the Flyers to a 3-2 win over the Islanders. (Jack Cassidy)
“Putting a lot of pressure on their defensemen and not giving them a whole lot of time to setup, when you do that, even highly skilled players make mistakes,” said Richards, who took over the team lead in scoring with 20 points (10g,10a). “It allows us to turn pucks over and get some odd man rushes.”
The goal was Richards’ third shorthanded goal of the year and team leading 10th goal of the season. In just his 17th game this year, he has matched his total number of goals all of last season in 59 games.
“He’s a big game player and he came through again tonight,” said Head Coach John Stevens. “He’s a terrific penalty killer. He’s got terrific instincts. I saw he’s one of two players to have two five-on-three shorthanded goals in his career. That is pretty incredible to think that he is only in his third year in the league and he is able to accomplish that.”
In what turned out to be a back and forth contest, Upshall kicked off the scoring with an unassisted goal just past the midway point of the opening frame to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. The period saw a combined nine shots in the favor of the Islanders, 5 to 4, however it was the Flyers defensive play that gave them the early advantage.
“It has been really good and it makes your team really confident,” said Martin Biron, who has started all six games at home for the Flyers. “Guys really took it into their hands to make a stronger effort and to take away everything from the other teams. It was something as a goalie and as a team you are happy to see.”
Former Flyer Mike Sillinger got the Islanders on the board with a goal at 14:54 of the second to tie the game, but Upshall once again put the Flyers ahead on a breakaway goal that fooled DiPietro.
Upshall’s second goal of the night marked the first time in his career he has had a multi-goal game.
“Yeah, it’s always nice,” commented Upshall on his two-goal performance. “Breakaways are an exciting part of the game and to make a move on a goalie that has been playing great, it’s been a big part of why we’re winning a lot of hockey games and we’re going to carry it into the game against the Rangers (on Thursday).”
The Islanders again returned the favor with a goal from Chris Simon, who evened the score at 2-2 by knocking in a loose puck with 1:43 remaining in the second period.
Biron turned in another solid performance between the pipes, stopping 24 of 26 shots, including all 12 in the third period, and a potent Islanders power-play that is ranked first in the league on the road with less than three minutes left in regulation.
With the win, the Flyers improved their record to 3-2-0 in the midst of their seven-game stretch against Atlantic Division opponents and improve to 11-6-0 and with 22 points, separate themselves by three points over the second-place Rangers and four points ahead of the Islanders.
At the halfway point of their four-game homestand, the Flyers face another pivotal division test when they play the New York Rangers on Thursday night at 7:00 on Comcast SportsNet and 610 WIP.
The last time the Flyers have won their first six games at home was 1986, when the team started the season 8-0-0 at home beginning Oct. 9 through Nov. 4… The Flyers are 9-1-0 when recording the first goal of the game… After losing all four games against the Islanders at the Wachovia Center last season, the Flyers have won their first two meetings of this year… Richards has a scored in five straight home games for the Flyers.
- - -
1 - 0 PHI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHI
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 PHI