(Philadelphia, PA) – The Flyers scored four power play goals, two on deflections by Scott Hartnell, in a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night at the Wachovia Center. Philadelphia is now 5-1-2 in its last eight games.
In the battle for playoff position, the Flyers, who sit in eighth place with 77 points, gained a point on Buffalo. The Sabres lost in overtime in Carolina and now trail Philadelphia by four points. Both teams have 13 games remaining.
The Flyers are a point behind the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers, who have 78.
Philadelphia led 2-0 after the second and increased its lead in the third period when Hartnell deflected a slap shot by Braydon Coburn at 7:22.
The Islanders were finally able to solve Martin Biron just 23 seconds later when Freddy Meyer’s shot deflected off of the backside of Randy Jones. A Scottie Upshall unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at the time of the goal provided a golden opportunity for New York to get back into the game, but it could not convert.
Hartnell’s second power play goal of the game at 13:18, as he tipped in a shot along the ice by Vaclav Prospal, put the game out of reach.
“Lately it’s been tough pulling away from teams. We’ve been playing good hockey, but we haven’t had that killer instinct in the third period,” said Danny Briere, who scored his second goal in as many games. “That’s what I liked about tonight. The way we got those two goals on the power play to really ice the game.”
Philadelphia finished 4-for-7 on the power play and killed off all five Islanders chances.
“I think the areas we have had trouble on our power plays, is recovering,” said John Stevens. “It’s really winning puck battles and winning loose puck races, and I thought we did that tonight. That allowed us to get set up, and usually when we get set up, good things happen.”
“Our power play has been struggling a lot the past half dozen games and good things happen when you put shots on net,” said Hartnell. “They come in bunches, and we needed them tonight. We got a big win.”
The Flyers entered the game second in the league with the man advantage at 22.0 percent, but had converted just four of their previous 48 attempts in the last dozen games. The Flyers registered more than on power play goal for the first time since February 6 against Washington.
Fortunately for Philadelphia, New York’s power play entered the game in dire straits, and the problems continued. The Islanders are just 2-for-46 in their last 11 games with the man advantage.
After a scoreless first period, the Flyers took the lead with a couple of power play goals in the second.
During a five-on-three, Kimmo Timonen flubbed a shot but it deflected off of the stick of New York’s Richard Park right to Briere. The Flyers’ center easily deposited his 24th goal of the season at 2:48.
Timonen also assisted on the second goal, when he fired the puck into the Islanders’ zone from center ice. Goaltender Rick DiPietro, who is notorious for misplaying the puck when venturing from the crease, had it deflect off of his skate behind the net to Upshall. Upshall quickly backhanded the puck towards the crease and Jeff Carter got just enough of the airborne puck for his 26th goal of the season at 12:06.
“We’re just working hard and getting a few bounces here and there, which always helps,” said Carter.
Timonen and Coburn each finished with three assists on the night. Biron made 32 saves for his 26th victory.
Derian Hatcher made his return to the lineup after missing the last 12 games with a sore right knee. Philadelphia dressed seven defensemen for the game.
The Flyers have a home-and-home with the Maple Leafs beginning on Tuesday at the Air Canada Centre (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). Toronto visits the Wachovia Center the next night on Wednesday, March 12 (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet).
Six of Hartnell’s 22 goals this season have come against the Islanders. … Timonen now has a six game point streak, with 10 assists over that span. … Carter has a five-game point streak, with six goals and two assists. … Steve Downie was a healthy scratch. … The Flyers are 30-21-8 against Eastern Conference and 11-10-2 against the Atlantic Division. … Philadelphia has won five of the six games against Islanders this season. Two games remain on March 23 at the Wachovia Center and March 29 at Nassau Coliseum. … The Flyers are 25-6-5 when scoring first goal of the game, 25-1-1 when leading after two periods, and 16-13-6 at home.
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