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Islanders 4, Flyers 3 (SO): Wahlstrom ends 18-round shootout after Isles tie it late

The Islanders did not play great, but they pulled out two points from the Flyers and finally got back to NHL .500.

NHL: New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers
There’s the celly.
Mitchell Leff-USA TODAY Sports

In a streaming-only game, the New York Islanders did not play nearly as well tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers as they did last night. And for a little while, it looked like they might walk away with zero points in a game where they could ill-afford not to get two.

But Casey Cizikas tipped home a nice effort from Scott Mayfield to tie the game late in the third period, and Oliver Wahlstrom scored the only goal of an eighteen-round shootout to give the Isles two more critical points and send Philadelphia to its ninth straight loss.

The win puts the Islanders at 13-13-6, back at NHL .500 for the first time since November, I think.

Lineup Notes

Barry Trotz did not change the personnel from last night, icing the same 18 skaters. The only change of player he made was in goal, replacing Ilya Sorokin with Semyon Varlamov.

He did change up the lines, though. Zach Parise and Kieffer Bellows switched spots. Neither made much of an impact tonight, though.

[Game Sum | Event Sum | NHL Gamecenter | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]

First Period: Early Lead Gone

Just over two minutes into the game, the Islanders took the lead on Robin Salo’s first NHL goal. Mathew Barzal entered the zone with possession and turned on a dime, finding Salo entering the zone. Salo double-clutched and ripped a slapper top corner. This one, unlike his shot last night, was not tipped by Casey Cizikas, so it was actually his goal.

Not long after the Salo goal, Joel Farabee took an offensive zone hooking penalty against Noah Dobson. Early in the man advantage, Oliver Wahlstrom hobbled Justin Braun with a one-timed slap shot. Other than that, Barzal looked dangerous while the Isles maintained possession, but the Islanders did not score.

The Islanders mostly controlled the period until a confusing cross-ice attempt at a clear from Anthony Beauvillier. Ivan Provorov took a shot from the point, and Joel Farabee cleaned up the rebound. But the Islanders successfully challenged that the entry was offsides, and they held onto their 1-0 lead for the time being.

However, on an ensuing power play, the Flyers officially got on the board. With 6:17 remaining in the period, Salo took a holding penalty to prevent an odd-man rush from the corner. About halfway through the kill, rookie Philadelphia defenseman Cam York took a shot off the backboards that crept forward through Varlamov’s legs. James van Riemsdyk smacked the puck back through Varlamov’s legs for the goal; it was 1-1 game for real this time.

In the final minute, Andy Greene from the defensive zone fired a puck off the boards that Kieffer Bellows in the neutral zone tipped over to Jean-Gabriel Pageau crossing the blue line. But Hart stopped his near-breakaway. That chance was really the only good one that the Islanders had after the disallowed Farabee goal. The Flyers grabbed a handle on the game after that.

Second Period: Second Lead Gone Even Quicker

Early in the period, Brock Nelson took a two-minute minor for boarding Travis Konecny—he had numbers all the way, so not a smart penalty. Apparently, the Flyers took four shots-on-goal during that power play. But nothing seemed too threatening, and the Islanders killed the penalty.

Just past the 13:00-minute mark, Philadelphia set up a dangerous play. As they descended on Varlamov, Keith Yandle received a seed; Yandle had a wide-open shot if he wanted it. Instead, he opted to pass to Farabee, who had an even more wide-open shot, but he missed it.

After that fracas, the game went to commercial. At that point, the Islanders still had not recorded a shot on goal in the second. Finally, around the midpoint of the period, the Isles had an offensive shift. Barzal again looked dangerous, making the dirty play you see below, and the Islanders finally recorded a couple of shots on goal.

Despite being outplayed for the most part, the Islanders re-took the lead for a moment. Beauvillier went in on the forecheck and dug the puck out to Adam Pelech pinching in from the point. Pelech got it back to Beauvillier in the corner, and Beauvillier threw it to Josh Bailey in front of the crease. In one fluid motion, Bailey kicked to his stick and shot it past Hart.

Just 0:26 later, the Flyers re-tied the game. Varlamov hesitated when going behind the net to play the puck, and Scott Laughton beat him to it. Oskar Lindblom provided pressure as Varlamov rushed back to his crease, and his shot produced a rebound. Before Varlamov could get set, Konecny put it over his shoulder.

Another big play occurred in the final minute of a period. This time, Varlamov dove and grabbed a puck with his blocker hand as it glided on the goal line, robbing a chance for the Flyers to take a lead late in the second.

Third Period: Falling Behind, but Tying It Up Anyway

About only 0:30 into the game, Konecny, Laughton, and Lindblom escaped on a three-on-one. Varlamov stoned Lindblom, but Zdeno Chara took a penalty coming back, sending the Flyers to the power play early in the third period. Thankfully, the Islanders neutered Philadelphia’s attack.

But the Flyers still took a 3-2 lead early in the third period. Captain Claude Giroux sneaked easily past Chara at the blue line and Scott Mayfield could not defend the two-on-one. Giroux went right over Varlamov’s glove.

Coming out of the first commercial break, Zack MacEwen hit Mayfield up high, catching Mayfield’s head with his shoulder and knocking off Mayfield’s helmet. Chara stepped in and fought MacEwen, handily winning the fight.

Two minutes later, the Islanders got their first shot of the period—it again took them half a period to get a shot on goal—when Barzal took the rebound of his own shot off the backboards and put it right back on Hart. It was part of something of a resurgence for the Islanders.

With about eight minutes left, Dobson leveled Farabee in the corner, crushing his left shoulder into the boards. Farabee got up slowly and skated off holding his shoulder. Never seen anything like it from Dobson. It was a clean hit, too.

Desperation mode set in, and it paid off with just under five minutes to go. Cal Clutterbuck got it to Mayfield, who skated over the blue line into some open ice. Reminiscent of his game-tying goal in Game 6 last June against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mayfield glided down the wing with the puck on his stick. This time, though, he threw the puck toward the front of the net, where Casey Cizikas fought off Braun and tipped it over Hart. That’s two goals in two nights for Cizikas after having none all season.

Just after the goal, the Islanders got a power play when Travis Sanheim slashed the stick out of Pageau’s hands. The Isles’ top unit had some good chances, but most of them were blocked on the way to the net. The second unit did not get much going, and the penalty expired.

The Flyers tried to set up in the dying seconds, but strong play on the puck by Pelech stopped Konecny and pushed the puck out to the neutral zone, sending the game to overtime with a point secured.

Overtime: Actually Interesting

The Flyers took control first against Pageau, Pelech, and Zach Parise, and that possession concluded with Konecny having a chance in close blocked by Pelech. That allowed the Isles to take possession and get Barzal on the ice.

Barzal took one shot quickly. Later, he skated with Bailey and Dobson but took the puck out of the zone, finding nothing.

On the next shift, Nelson and Beauvillier nearly beat Hart in front of the net with Mayfield crashing, but it wouldn’t go—and even if it had, it probably would have been goalie interference.

In the last minute, Barzal had a good chance and then came back to stop Provorov from getting a breakaway.

Going back the other way, Beauvillier picked up the puck in the corner and tried to wrap it around just like he did in OT against the Flyers last year, but Hart flung his stick to make the stop.

Then, Varlamov stole a goal on a two-on-none. Everyone was gassed going back and forth, but the period ended without a goal.

Longest Shootout in the NHL This Season, Featuring Just One Goal

  • In Round 1, Varlamov stopped Konecny, and Hart stopped Beauvillier.
  • In Round 2, Giroux went for the slapper, but Varlamov turned that aside. Then, Barzal came in slowly and Hart never bit.
  • In Round 3, Cam Atkinson got a false start, and when he did actually go, he shot it wide. Nelson tried to go five-hole, but Hart got that.
  • Now in shootout extra time in Round 4, Farabee did a nice deke, but Varlamov stayed with him. Bailey went for the backhand, and he nearly had Hart beat, but either Hart got a piece or it went over the crossbar.
  • In Round 5, Laughton tried to go five-hole, but Varlamov blocked it. Then Kieffer Bellows tried to go low blocker, but Hart denied him.
  • In Round 6, Morgan Frost went wide, came in slowly, and then just missed the net. Dobson came in fast, but Hart turned it away.
  • van Riemsdyk went next in Round 7, and he went slowly and tried to sneak it blocker side, but he went wide. Then, Parise went for a move similar to Frost’s that Hart also stopped.
  • In Round 8, Gerry Mayhew, who hadn’t scored a goal yet, went and missed. Pageau did a figure ‘S’, and Hart made the save.
  • In Round 9, Provorov came in methodically, but Varlamov got a glove on it. And finally, Oliver Wahlstrom, who Trotz must have forgotten about that he went this late, sniped it top corner over Hart’s glove. Just as he did last time he won the shootout, he celebrated fantastically.

Notes and Thoughts

  • Congratulations to Salo on his first NHL goal. Always a big accomplishment.
  • That was both a very entertaining overtime period and a very entertaining shootout. That’s a rarity. Wahlstrom is good at the shootout.
  • For a little while, when the Flyers took the lead, it looked like the Islanders were going to let this game slip away. In the end, it was the Flyers, despite probably outplaying the Islanders, who let it slip away.
  • Good on the Isles to keep pushing after falling behind. Perhaps the Chara domination of MacEwen helped if you believe that fights help the players wake up. Happy for Cizikas to get his first two goals of the season in back-to-back nights.
  • John Buccigross and Kevin Weekes do not call a good game. Buccigross jumps around between sounding like a peewee coach to sounding like he is narrating the highlights on SportsCenter in his trademark doofy jock way; either way, it does not translate well to play-by-play. And Weekes sounds like a great guy, but he also reminds me a bit of Pierre McGuire, by trying to show how much he knows, and Jimmy Fallon, by loving everything he sees. Weekes is good in the studio, Buccigross less so, but neither belongs in the booth.
  • Overall ESPN+/Hulu-only games leave a lot to be desired. Just as ESPN’s telecasts have been disappointing, so too have their streams. Choppy feed, weird audio issues.

Up Next

The Islanders head back home through the All-Star break. Their next game at UBS Arena is Friday night. They’ll host Andrew Ladd and the Arizona Coyotes at 7:30 p.m. What are we thinking—does he get a tribute video?

Then, the next night, the Islanders host John Tavares and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who will make their second trip to Elmont. That game starts at 7:00 p.m., not 7:30 p.m.