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Flyers 2, Islanders 1: Clutterbuck scratch fuels refuted trade speculation

Kevin Hayes scored both Flyers goals in a game marked more by its trade deadline context.

NHL: New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers
No breaking through.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Hayes reversed a 1-0 deficit in the second period to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders in a game that means little in the standings but held some continuing trade deadline intrigue.

Longtime Islander and pending unrestricted free agent Cal Clutterbuck was held out of the lineup, fueling speculation — and much talk on the TNT broadcast — that he’s on the move before Monday’s NHL trade deadline. However, for what it’s worth, in the post-game, Barry Trotz said Clutterbuck and Andy Greene’s scratches were not deadline-related.

The Flyers, fresh off of dealing their captain Claude Giroux, held Justin Braun out of the lineup, fueling similar speculation. Owen Tippett, one of the pieces they got in return for Giroux, was noticeable and got his heavy shot off several times, including ringing the post one behind Ilya Sorokin.

The loss ended the Islanders’ best run of 2022, a 5-0-1 points streak. With 20 games to go, they sit in limbo at 26-25-9.

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Clutterbuck was replaced on the vaunted Identity Line by Kieffer Bellows, who performed fine in that slot, registering three shots on goal. That line’s longtime center, Casey Cizikas, had the only Islanders goal on an uncharacteristic blast from the point after he blocked a Flyers clear.

That came at 12:50 of the first period, giving the Isles a 1-0 lead they carried into the first intermission.

In the second period Hayes erased that, scoring early from the doorstep after Joel Farabee poked the puck free from Sebastian Aho as he skated behind the net.

He then gave the Flyers the 2-1 lead from the same spot at 14:55, on the power play after another nice setup by Farabee.

Barry Trotz appeared unhappy about some of the officiating calls and non-calls and let the refs have it at the second intermission.

But it was all for naught. It was a sleepy game overall, with both teams possibly showing the effects of a busy weekend and tight schedule amid the disorientation of the trade deadline. The Isles mounted a few final pushes in the last two minutes with Ilya Sorokin pulled for a sixth attacker, but Carter Hart was up to the task.

Up Next

First thing’s first, Monday afternoon’s trade deadline. Clutterbuck is said to be just a health maintenance scratch — although you know the Lou cone of silence — while Zdeno Chara and Zach Parise were both in the lineup and presumably aren’t headed anywhere.

Semyon Varlamov’s name appears in media speculation but has yet to be connected to any legit reports from teams seeking goalie help.

Could the Islanders have an unchanged roster when the Senators visit Tuesday?