Say what you will about this team (and lord knows we have), but one thing you must say about the Islanders is that they have a flare for the dramatic.
The Flyers flew out of the gate to begin the period, but made a habit of taking dumb penalties in an incredibly important game for them, which I would personally advise against. John Tavares was okay with it though, Nine seconds into their first power play, Tavares found himself wide open in front of Petr Mrazek off the faceoff, and slid it right between the legs of the former Red Wings netminder. Mathew Barzal, who won the faceoff, recorded his 60th assist and 80th point on the play, the first rookie since Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, respectively, to achieve either feat.
The Islanders gained control of the flow for most of the period, but Wayne Simmonds made sure that his team didn’t end the period down a goal. Admittedly, Barzal lazed his way back to defend in the last minute of a first period at the end of a lost season for his team.
There wasn’t much Simmonds could about this period, however. The Islanders finished the period up 4-1 after what could be considered a thoroughly dominant frame.
First, Anthony Beauvillier scored in his fourth straight game to put his team up by one. In doing so, the 20 year-old reached the 20 goal plateau for the first time in his young career, and is becoming a fixture of the future.
Then, Tavares gave the Islanders his second night, never giving up on a play that most players, in most situations (i.e., not the end of a lost season) would have given up on. But that’s why we love him.
And finally, Barzal added his 21st goal of the season, while a pissed off Andrew MacDonald manhandled Beauvillier in the corner. Barzal didn’t even celebrate his goal before helping out his linemate, only to be horsecollared by Simmonds.
During the second period onslaught, I tweeted this:
The Isles should really lose this game, but it pleases me greatly to watch the Flyers melt down because of the team in last in its division— Steve (@theysmithonme2) April 4, 2018
In the spirit of the tank and jinxes, the Isles allowed Nolan Patrick to score two power play goals in a four-minute span before Hart Trophy Candidate™ Claude Giroux tied it with his 30th. Yes, folks, the Islanders were at it again.
Perhaps they just wanted to tease Philly a bit, though, because within thirty seconds, the Islanders second line got back on the board, as Mathew Barzal finished off a pretty feed from Beauvillier with less than seven to play.
This was a solid Fan Appreciation game, as well as a fine final game of the season for me in a season where all too many of these games have been snoozers or over before they began. Moreover, the Flyers cannot clinch the playoffs tonight with the loss, and will have to squeak it out over their last two this week.
The offensive players in New York continued to pad their stats: Mathew Barzal guaranteed that he will finish at a point per game pace as a rookie and solidified his Calder Trophy. Tavares will also finish at a point per game pace. Beauvillier became the fifth player on the team with 20 goals; they could finish the season with seven players at 20 goals, if Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson can get there.
Only two games remain in the Isles’ season: home Thursday evening against the Rangers, and on the road Saturday against the Red Wings. I greatly look forward to the end of this season, but even more so to the beginning of next season, when I can do this again.