The New York Islanders beat the slumping Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, on a Saturday night in Elmont, in what started sluggish but turned into a feisty, physical match that sets up a tasty rematch in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
For the Isles, it was their fourth consecutive win, while the Flyers have now gone winless in 10 straight. The frustration of that losing streak showed on the visitors, as they played a focused and disciplined game while the score was close, then lost their cool once the Isles broke it open in the third.
Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves, some of them very good, and was key to keeping things close in the first two periods when the Isles weren’t at their best. Ryan Pulock tied a career high with four assists. And Oliver Wahlstrom, who wasn’t looking for a fight, showed Tony DeAngelo that he probably shouldn’t go looking for one either.
The game had it all — from maddening sluggishness to quick-strike goals, some great saves and a melee, plus bad blood that should easily spill over into next week.
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First Period: Good start, sleepy finish
The Isles had a good, energetic start to the game, and that produced an early Adam Pelech goal, but they were unable to build on it in the first. Pelech’s goal came after good pressure and a wild scramble, initiated by Islanders possession and Anders Lee being a skyscraper shadow in front of the Flyers net. With goalie Felix “don’t call me Tomas” Sandstrom on his belly and flailing his legs desperately, Anthony Beauvillier won the puck behind the net and served it to Pelech for a one-time blast.
The Isles continued to get a few nice looks — heads-up Sebastian Aho play featuring in a few of them, including what became a golden one-timer chance for Matt Martin — but the play from both teams got progressively loose and sloppy. If the first half of the period went by in a flash, the second half slogged like a Black Friday line. None of the Isles’ six shots came after the midway point.
Just as the MSG crew was remarking about the game having a relaxed, preseason feel to it, the Flyers equalized.
The Flyers only had two shots on goal through the first 15 minutes, but they tied it at 1-1 on a nice run of puck movement in the Islanders zone, waiver pickup Lukas Sedlak nicely redirecting a Kevin Hayes pass to the low slot at 15:27.
Lukas Sedlak ties the game up at one with this smooth backhand chip. pic.twitter.com/8wj40P8mo2— NHL (@NHL) November 27, 2022
Second Period: Sleepy start, strong finish
The Islanders did not awaken from their sleep to open the second, and the Flyers forced several strong saves from Semyon Varlamov, including a few through traffic. The Flyers drew a penalty at 5:48 when Oliver Wahlstrom reached in on the backcheck and tripped Kevin Hayes.
The Isles survived that penalty, but the Flyers kept the pressure on as the Isles were generating nothing. At one point, the Isles swapped Josh Bailey on to the Barzal-Wahlstrom line in Simon Holmstrom’s spot, and the Flyers promptly scored off the rush. It wasn’t necessarily a fault of that change, but no Islander on the ice picked up Joel Farabee as he arrived in perfect timing to knock home the rebound of Hayes’ shot.
That goal give the Flyers a 2-1 lead at 9:28 seemed to finally reawaken the Isles. They generated enough sustained pressure to draw six or seven uncalled Flyers crosschecks — you know, because there’s a “renewed emphasis” on crosschecks, but only to crosschecks in certain areas, apparently.
Regardless, the game was getting steadily feistier, and a crosscheck finally was called when Ivan Provorov delivered a second, extra crosscheck on Zach Parise after Parise had crashed for a rebound. It’s one of those incidents that you would call a stupid penalty, but also understandable since Provorov was playing to the standard of (non)calls the refs displayed through the first half of the game. The only harder job than NHL referee must be an NHL player trying to interpret what the hell is in a ref’s head at any given moment.
Anyway, the Isles power play started excited but rough. Like a puppy, they really wanted to do well, but were a little too sloppy about it. The first unit failed to gain the zone, and succumbed to an aggressive Flyers penalty kill that got the puck deep in the Isles zone.
With the power play in its last seconds and the Flyers about to clear, the tenacious second unit struck. Bailey was relentless at lifting Morgan Frost’s stick to prevent the clear, and the botched clear then went straight to Ryan Pulock. Pulock had J-G Pageau and Parise breaking toward the net and his pass went through Pageau to Parise, who made a nice move to the backhand to tie it up.
A crazy one from Parise. pic.twitter.com/heBokQ7MHh— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 27, 2022
That made it 2-2 with 3:12 left in the period. The Flyers kept up their determined work, but the Isles, thus far known for strong third periods, made it to the second intermission with a clean slate.
Third Period: That...that got pretty crazy
The Islanders lived up to the billing, potting two goals in the opening minutes, and just 24 seconds apart — but the game highlights were not over! Not by a longshot. More on that later though.
The first came on a turnover in the neutral zone, which Noah Dobson jumped on to regain the blueline and send to Brock Nelson on the left wing. Nelson unleashed his sizzling wrister far side top corner to give the Isles a 3-2 lead at 2:57.
Beauvillier then made it 4-2, converting from the slot on a sweet pass by Ryan Pulock, who recorded his third consecutive primary assist.
What’s better than one goal highlight??— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 27, 2022
Two goal highlights!! pic.twitter.com/vFExLc5lg6
The Flyers weren’t giving up though, and some hard work around the Isles net eventually drew a Scott Mayfield interference penalty. The Isles were dominant on the first half of the kill, even playing keepaway in their own zone for a stretch. But the second half required some good saves from Varlamov in tight.
Nicolas Deslauriers, generally known for trying to add some douchebaggery to proceedings, got called for an offensive zone crosscheck on Pelech and then tried to goad someone, anyone, into taking an off-setting penalty. It wasn’t happening, however, and the Isles went to their second power play.
The Isles had decent possession but no great chances, outside of a prime-location Nelson one-timer that was blocked by Provarov. But with the final seconds ticking off the power play, Parise again saved the day. He took a pass across the blueline from Bailey and scored from an absurd low angle, ripping it over Sandstrom’s near-post shoulder.
That's 2 for Parise! pic.twitter.com/xICjGr4hIz— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) November 27, 2022
Pulock got the second assist, making it his second career four-assist night.
With under five minutes to go, the genuine Flyers douchebaggery came out. Alex Romanov laid a clean and not-vicious check on Hayes as he carried up the right wing boards. Deslauriers, still feeling the need to salvage something from his hopeless offseason decision to sign in Philadelphia, immediately tried to fight Romanov. Romanov grabbed him by the legs to take him down as all the players convened along the boards.
Tony DeAngelo — who annually vies for Top Tool in the NHL — came in to start something with Oliver Wahlstrom, which ended up being a hilariously bad idea. You could tell from the get-go that DeAngelo thought he had picked off some lightweight sniper who he could have his way with and then tell daddy what a good tough boy he was.
Wahlstrom was not about to let that happen though. (And I admit I was worried, because DeAngelo is an idiot.) The Isles winger got his footing, beat his attacker back back, landed punches of his own and ragdolled him. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving POS.
IS THIS YOUR HOMEWORK, LARRY? (Or Tony...whatever your name is)
OLIVER WAHLSTROM. #Isles pic.twitter.com/ZEaog04sRk— Isles Territory (@IslesTerritory) November 27, 2022
Oliver Wahlstrom tells Tony DeAngelo when he can get up. pic.twitter.com/I8J8D89TyH— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 27, 2022
Imagine being the Brent Gretzky of the deAngelo family— budlight “antifa ollie wahlstrom” lyman (@budlightlyman) November 27, 2022
#Isles Oliver Wahlstrom on fighting Tony DeAngelo:— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) November 27, 2022
“I wasn't even expecting it. I just saw Romy went down and everyone kind of skated over to see if he was good and then I turn around and his [DeAngelo] gloves are in the air. I got to protect myself.”
Deslauriers did not get called for fighting, which means he did not get an obvious instigator, which inside the final five minutes would’ve meant an automatic suspension. So he should be in the lineup for Tuesday’s rematch.
The Isles moved the puck around on the power play but couldn’t get one more goal, not even with Parise for the final seconds.
The game ended without further incident, the crowd serenading the victorious home team.
This is a delayed home-and-home, as the next game for both teams is in Philadelphia for a rematch on Tuesday night.