(Philadelphia, PA) – The Philadelphia Flyers scored three power play goals and Martin Biron made 32 saves in a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders at the Wachovia Center on Sunday night.
For the second consecutive game, the duo of Danny Briere and Vaclav Prospal led the way for Philadelphia. Briere finished with a goal and two assists, while Prospal had one of each. In the last two games, they have combined for nine points.
With the win, the Flyers moved into seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 86 points, two ahead of idle Boston. They also drew to within two points of the New York Rangers, whom they will play on Tuesday night, for sixth place. It was the Flyers’ third straight victory.
“I like the energy in our game we are starting to play with,” said head coach John Stevens. “We still have things to correct, but no question these points this weekend before we get on the road are critical heading down the stretch.”
Biron played a key role early in the second period with the Flyers ahead, 1-0.
The Flyers’ goaltender, who improved his record to a perfect 6-0 against New York this season, was called upon to preserve the lead when New York came out hard at the start of the frame. Biron’s neck guard cracked when he stopped a slap shot by Bill Guerin from the circle, and he gloved Bryan Berard’s rebound attempt on an Islanders power play later for perhaps his best save of the night.
That allowed Philadelphia to increase its lead midway through the period, when Braydon Coburn’s impressive one-timer from Jaroslav Modry sailed into the back of the net at 9:36.
“I’ve always been working on it,” said Coburn of his developed shooting skills. “It’s just something I do after practice with other defensemen or coaches.”
Briere’s 29th goal of the season at 5:34 of the third period on a Flyers power play made it a 3-0 lead, while Scott Hartnell’s tip-in on a pretty feed from Prospal at 7:59 essentially put the game out of reach.
“It was really good for us that we got the lead and we did not have to come from behind,” said Prospal.
Miroslav Satan ended Biron’s bid for his fourth shutout this season with a late power play goal.
The Flyers applied good pressure in the first period and drew four penalties on the Islanders. With Josek Vasicek and Matthew Spiller in the box, Briere skated in from the half-wall and fired a pass to Prospal for a slam dunk during the five-on-three advantage. The goal was Prospal’s 32nd of the year and third as a Flyer.
Biron credited the team’s start as the key to the win, as well as his own strong play.
“When you start games like that you are going to win more than you lose because you get momentum, you get the other team on their heels, you get the puck in deep, and you hit instead of getting hit,” he said. “For me, when I see the guys going that way, it just keeps me in the game and allows me to stay sharp.”
Biron made a sprawling save in the third period on Vasicek with an outstretched left pad with the Flyers up 4-0, spawning a “Marty, Marty” chant from the crowd.
“I’m excited for Marty that he is gaining confidence as we move along,” said Stevens. “We have said all along if you are going to win this time of year you need really good goaltending, and Marty seems like he is getting more confident as we move along. It was a very solid outing by him tonight, start to finish.”
Philadelphia, which entered the game with the league’s second ranked power play but was just 1-for-17 in the last four games combined, finished 3-for-5. The Flyers killed off six of seven New York opportunities.
The Flyers have won six of seven games against New York this season, including all four at the Wachovia Center. The final game of the season series is next Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.
Joey McDonald, starting his first game of the season after spending most of the year with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, suffered the loss for New York. Starting goaltender Rick DiPietro is out for the remainder of the season with a labrum injury.
The Flyers play four straight road games beginning on Tuesday against the New York Rangers (7:30 p.m., Versus).
Modry recorded his 200th NHL assist on Coburn’s goal. … Patrick Thoresen played in his 100th NHL game. … The Flyers have earned a point in 13 of the last 17 games (8-4-5). … Philadelphia improved to 27-6-6 when scoring the first goal of the game … The Flyers are 16-2-2 when leading after the first period and 28-1-3 when leading after two. … Philadelphia improved to 13-11-2 against the Atlantic Division. All six remaining games come against division opponents.
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