|NYI||2||2||0||(0 - 0)||4|
|PHI||2||1||3||(0 - 0)||6|
PHILADELPHIA -- Were the Philadelphia Flyers happy to leave Wells Fargo Center on Saturday with two points after a 6-4 win against the visiting New York Islanders?
But how they got those two points has them in a bit of a sour mood.
Michael Raffl's goal with 4:15 left in the third period capped a Philadelphia comeback from a 4-3 deficit entering the third. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Flyers tied a team record with its ninth victory this season when trailing at any point in the third. The Flyers also won for the fifth time when trailing after two periods.
Although the Flyers played well the final 20 minutes, they were not good the first 40.
"Third period was good," Philadelphia coach Craig Berube said. "But the first two weren't. ... Obviously, we played a real good third period. We came out, got the puck deep, worked them down low. First two periods are inexcusable."
When asked what he took from the game, Berube said, "Two points. That's it."
Those two points allowed them to remain solidly in the hunt for a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth. The victory kept them in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 55 points, the same as the third-place New York Rangers but in one fewer game. They're also three points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals.
"Every game is the most important game of the season," Giroux said. "Especially when we play against our division."
Andrej Meszaros scored two goals for the Flyers, Voracek had a goal and an assist, and Adam Hall and Matt Read also had goals. Goalie Ray Emery stopped all five shots he faced in relief of starter Steve Mason.
The win was the Flyers' third straight against the Islanders this season and they're 15-2-2 against them dating to the 2010-11 season. The Flyers also have won 17 of 20 games against the Islanders in Philadelphia dating to the 2007-08 season.
Brock Nelson and Brian Strait each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders, and John Tavares and Cal Clutterbuck also had goals. Goaltender Kevin Poulin stopped 26 shots.
The Islanders led 4-3 after two periods after goals by Nelson and Strait 2:55 apart in the second. But the Flyers came out fast in the third period and never let up.
"It felt a little bit like we were sitting back a little bit [in the third]," Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "We weren't executing on plays in the [defensive] zone. They got us scrambling a bit, and we missed some coverage. They've got a pretty potent lineup over there and managed to score. It's pretty frustrating."
Voracek tied it at 7:14 of the third with his 14th of the season. Philadelphia held the puck in the New York end and worked it around the top of the zone. Kimmo Timonen ended up with the puck at the left point and centered a pass to Giroux between the circles. Giroux made a nice backhand pass to Voracek, and his one-timer from the right circle beat Poulin over his glove.
Moments later, it was another great play by Giroux. Carrying the puck into the New York end, he tried putting a shot on net off the rush, but Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan blocked it. The puck came right back to Giroux, who dropped it between Donovan's skates to a trailing Raffl, and the Austrian rookie buried it behind Poulin for his fourth of the season.
"Before I shot it he [Raffl] yelled at me, so I knew he was there," Giroux said. "Third period we wanted to get shots on net. I shot it, it got blocked. Figured he was still there, so I put it back there."
Raffl made no mistake finishing this play after what happened Thursday against the Nashville Predators, when he had an open net after a miscue by Predators goalie Carter Hutton but Hutton recovered to make a spectacular sliding glove save.
"That's not easy to forget, put it that way," Raffl said. "It's going to be a highlight of my career for the wrong side. Not that easy to forget. ... I tried to bury that one [Saturday] as hard as I could, and I'm happy it went in."
Read closed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 55.4 seconds left, his 11th of the season.
The Islanders had turned in their own rally to get ahead after 40 minutes. Hall's redirection of a Mark Streit shot 3:45 into the period gave Philadelphia a 3-2 lead, but hard work by Nelson helped the Islanders get ahead.
The 22-year-old center tied the game at 11:05 of the second with his seventh of the season. Josh Bailey pushed the puck to defenseman Calvin de Haan at the Philadelphia blue line, and De Haan fired a shot into traffic in front that Nelson redirected past Mason.
Moments later, Strait was credited with his third goal of the season. Nelson beat Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann to a dump-in behind the Philadelphia net. He spun it to Michael Grabner in the right corner and Grabner spotted Strait at the blue line on the left side and hit him with a long pass. Strait got to the top of the faceoff circle and fired a shot that appeared to hit something in front and go past Mason at 14:00.
Berube pulled Mason after the Strait goal. Mason, whom the Flyers signed to a three-year, $12.3 million contract extension Saturday, made 20 saves on 24 shots.
"It's frustrating because you want to find a way to win," Mason said. "But at the same time, the way the game was going, find a way for the team to light a fire, and [Berube] did exactly that. You've got to give the guys credit for coming back in the third period and finding way to win again."
The game started just the way the Islanders hoped as they turned a Flyers defensive-zone turnover into Tavares' 22nd goal of the season at 7:43 of the first period and got a shorthanded goal from Clutterbuck at 11:54.
Meszaros brought the Flyers back by scoring twice in the second half of the first period. It was his first two-goal game since April 9, 2011, also against the Islanders. He has three goals and six assists in his past six games.
Hall's goal early in the second put the Flyers ahead for the first time. He beat Nelson on a faceoff on the right side of the New York zone. He won the puck back to Streit, who slid to his left and fired a shot that Hall redirected from above the hashmarks past a screened Poulin. Replay review upheld the goal.
Things looked better for the Islanders after the back-to-back goals later in the second, but then things went south in the third.
"I thought we played pretty well there for the 40 minutes," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We made some mistakes in the first 40, but we stopped getting pucks to the net. We're a team ... we want to play on our toes. For me, we didn't establish our forecheck, we didn't stay on the body like we did the first two periods. That was a big part of it. And then in our own end, we didn't win the battles that we needed to win."
The loss sent the Islanders home with a sour taste heading into their rematch with the Flyers at Nassau Coliseum on Monday. Despite finishing their six-game road trip with a 4-2-0 record, they're seven points behind the Blue Jackets for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"This one stings right now," Tavares said, "It's disappointing, especially with the way we played in the first two periods. We've got to bounce back."
Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
|John Tavares (22) ASST: Thomas Vanek (25), Kyle Okposo (28)|
1 - 0 NYI
|SHG - Cal Clutterbuck (7) ASST: Frans Nielsen (22), Brian Strait (5)|
2 - 0 NYI
|Andrej Meszaros (3) ASST: NONE|
2 - 1 NYI
|Andrej Meszaros (4) ASST: Scott Hartnell (17), Wayne Simmonds (20)|
2 - 2 Tie
|Adam Hall (2) ASST: Mark Streit (16)|
3 - 2 PHI
|Brock Nelson (7) ASST: Calvin de Haan (7), Josh Bailey (12)|
3 - 3 Tie
|Brian Strait (3) ASST: Michael Grabner (9), Brock Nelson (8)|
4 - 3 NYI
|Jakub Voracek (14) ASST: Claude Giroux (30), Kimmo Timonen (14)|
4 - 4 Tie
|Michael Raffl (4) ASST: Claude Giroux (31), Jakub Voracek (21)|
5 - 4 PHI
|EN - Matt Read (11) ASST: Sean Couturier (14), Mark Streit (17)|
6 - 4 PHI
|Eric Boulton Tripping against Andrej Meszaros|
|Eric Boulton Fighting (maj) against Jay Rosehill|
|Jay Rosehill Fighting (maj) against Eric Boulton|
|Matt Donovan Hi-sticking against Sean Couturier|
|Matt Martin Roughing against Luke Schenn|
|Steve Downie Roughing against Matt Martin|
|Jay Rosehill Roughing against Matt Martin|
|Braydon Coburn Slashing against John Tavares|
|Andrej Meszaros Delaying Game-Puck over glass|