The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders met for the eighth and final time this season on Sunday night. And for the sixth time this season, the game wasn’t decided in regulation.
Brian Elliott and Ilya Sorokin were rocks in net. Elliott stopped all 26 shots he faced in regulation, but couldn’t stop the second one he faced in overtime. Well, it wasn’t even really a shot, but it counts nonetheless.
“We did all the right things we talked about in the locker room. That’s what makes a game like this tough where you do so many things right and you come away with just one point,” Elliott said after the game. “We just can’t ride a rollercoaster right now. We have to stay at even keel and just bring it next game, the same type of game we played tonight and just try not to get too low. Try not to get too high and just go about business like we did tonight.”
The Islanders won the game 1-0 in overtime. It was a hard-fought game by the Flyers but they couldn’t find goal.
“We had some quality looks and real good opportunities, some second opportunities. They’re a team that they block a lot of shots and they are good defensively. Tonight, their goaltender in the first two periods in my estimation was the difference and they found a way to win this game in overtime,” Alain Vigneault said.
One of the few highlights of the game came before puck drop. Oskar Lindblom took a solo lap prior to warmups and then all of the Flyers came onto the ice wearing the purple Lindblom jerseys on Hockey Fights Cancer night.
It was pretty special.
Then, the game started.
It was a slow game to start. The Islanders didn’t get any shots on goal in the first half of the period, but the Flyers weren’t much better with just two shots on goal.
The Flyers appeared to be playing with some energy early on. They had plenty of offensive zone time, but couldn’t really convert on any of their chances.
In the first half of the period, the Flyers were more so just skating around the zone and not really getting much on net.
It picked up a bit as the period moved along, especially in the final few minutes. The Flyers were skating circles in the offensive zone and had a few strong chances, but couldn’t beat Ilya Sorokin.
The Islanders’ best chance of the period came in the final minute after Jakub Voracek made a bad cross-ice pass. Mat Barzal came down the ice and fired a shot, but Brian Elliott made the save with the shaft of his stick to keep the game scoreless.
Ivan Provorov tried for another last-second goal from the slot, but it didn’t go.
The Flyers outshot the Islanders 8-4 in a scoreless first period.
The second period had a bit more action, but there weren’t a ton of chances on either side.
Provorov drew a tripping penalty in the defensive zone for the first power play of the game.
An early power play, just 1:36 into the second, gave the Flyers a chance to open the scoring and really take control of the game. However, they couldn’t bury any of their chances on the power play.
Not only were the Flyers getting offensive zone time at even strength, but they were creating rushes as well. Unfortunately, those rushes rarely ended up with the Flyers getting a shot on goal.
Elliott was strong in the second period despite not facing a ton of shots. He made a nice save on Casey Cizikas out of the penalty box and stood tall on a few others.
The Flyers had some good offensive zone pressure late in the period. Once again, the puck sat near the crease and they couldn’t put it home.
It was one of the Flyers’ better efforts through two periods but they had nothing to show for it. They outshot the Islanders 23-13 through two scoreless periods.
“The first and second periods we had some great looks,” Alain Vigneault said after the game. “Their goaltender made some real big saves at the right time. In my estimation, we had enough looks in those two periods to get a couple.”
This time, it was the Islanders’ turn to get a power play early in the period. Kevin Hayes was called for hooking and the Isles went to the man advantage just 1:57 into the period.
The Flyers’ penalty kill has up and down (mostly down) this season. They were successful this time and Hayes whipped the puck through the crease on a wraparound attempt shortly after coming out of the box.
The top line got a good cycle after that, but nothing was going.
Wade Allison took a holding penalty on Mat Barzal, giving the Islanders another power play.
Sean Couturier may have had the best chance of the two minutes as he got a shot on net on a semi-breakaway from an angle.
The two penalties were iffy calls at best.
“In the third, with all the time we had spent in their zone, in my personal opinion anyway, to get those two average calls against us with everything they had let go in the first two periods there, just wasn’t right and they were able to get momentum off it,” Vigneault said after the game. “A little bit more energy, a little bit more speed, so they had better looks and then Moose came in and made some really big saves for us. We went to three on three and other than one time where we had possession, we didn’t really have any possession. They had control.”
Elliott was forced to make a couple of tough stops, including a point-blank save on Casey Cizikas, shortly after the kill.
It was midway through the period and the Islanders appeared to have finally woken up.
New York had 13 shots in the third period, matching their total from the first two periods, but Elliott stopped all of them.
The Flyers outshot the Islanders 29-26 in regulation and the game headed to overtime.
The Islanders controlled the puck for most of the extra session. Elliott made a tricky save 1:39 into overtime for the period’s first stoppage, allowing Ivan Provorov and Jakub Voracek to get off the ice.
However, it didn’t matter.
“A combination of a bad break and Hayesy makes a bad pass where we lose control of the puck. We win the faceoff, we’ve got the puck, need to make a better first pass and we don’t, and too bad for Travis and Brian,” Vigneault said of the goal. “Moose had played really good and Travis had played one of his best games as far as being in control and skating well and unfortunately the puck went off his stick as he was trying to break up a play.”
It was a tough way to end a scoreless game to that point.
The Flyers now have three straight days off, which will be much-needed.
“We are running on fumes right now. So, we need to reenergize here. For the first time in a long time, we’re going to have three days in between games. That is going to be beneficial for us,” Vigneault said.
The Flyers return to action with a back-to-back set in New York against the Rangers on Thursday and Friday.
Photo: Heather Barry Images