The New York Islanders defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1, earning a crucial victory to put the Isles in a great position to get into a playoff spot this season. With the win tonight, the Islanders are two points out of the wild card spot currently held by the Bruins, with four games in hand. Saying there’s a lot of hockey left to play this season seems like less of a cliché from a team that doesn’t stand a chance and more like the beginnings of a contentious playoff race in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
A Tale of Two Power Plays
The Flyers reintroduced Shayne Gostisbehere to their lineup, where he made himself known on the power play, setting up Wayne Simmonds’ mid-period tally to give Philadelphia the lead. However, shortly after, the Islanders earned a power play of their own, and John Tavares was originally credited with the game tying goal off an excellent feed from Ryan Strome. The goal was later changed to Anders Lee’s, assisted by Tavares and Strome, continuing Lee’s hot streak, with seven points in his last four games.
Despite the tie score, the shots were lopsided, with the Flyers outshooting the Islanders 16-6. While a slow start didn’t hurt this game, it’s something to watch out for going forward.
Early Goals Seal the Game
Early in the second period, Jason Chimera scored a neat little backhand goal to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead, which they maintained with strong forechecking and a lot of zone time in the Flyers’ end.
Then, the worry became maintaining a lead in the third period, something the Islanders have struggled with all season. Instead, Casey Cizikas spun past Gostisbehere, and slipped the puck by an unprepared Steve Mason.
The goal gave the Islanders the confidence to close the game out strong, and they did, earning two extremely crucial points against a rival in the playoff race.
The New York Islanders take on the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, February 11. The Senators are currently in second place in the Atlantic Division and yet seem like the kind of opponent the Isles should beat, especially to take advantage of their games in hand. The Isles have continued to surge under Doug Weight, going 7-1-2 and earning 16 of a possible 20 points.