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5 Takeaways: Flyers Start Key Homestand with Loss to Isles

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Nick Deslauriers, Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers left winger Nick Deslauriers (second from left) celebrates with his teammates after his goal Monday. Photo: AP.

If the Philadelphia Flyers are going to make a playoff push, it must start NOW.

They entered Monday needing to climb over five teams and make up six points. Time is of an essence.

With that in mind, the Flyers played for the first time Monday since the the All-Star break, starting an important four-game homestand against the new-look New York Islanders.

It did not start the way they wanted.

The Flyers fell to the New York Islanders, 2-1, at the Wells Fargo Center as their top three lines failed to produce any goals.

“Any time you play them, you know it’s going to be a tight-checking game,” said right winger Owen Tippett, who had seven shot attempts, drew two penalties, and was the Philadelphia Flyers’ best player. “You’ve got to find a way to break through.”

“We’re going to find out about some people when we start playing these games here in the checking part of it, because teams are going to ramp that up,” coach John Tortorella said. “It’s going to be really interesting to see how guys react.”

Here are five quick observations.

1. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov was clutch.

The Flyers didn’t exactly swarm the net with pressure, but when they did have high-quality chances, Varlamov (25 saves) had the answers.

Example: He made a glove save to rob Scott Laughton on a two-on-one chance with 14:24 left in regulation. He also made a nice stop on Rasmus Ristolainen’s right-circle blast with 12:05 to go. Three minutes later, he turned aside Owen Tippett’s ticketed shot.

Varlamov has a 10-3-2 career record against the Flyers, and has a save percentage near .920.

2. The Flyers’ power play had no power.

Boos echoed around the Wells Fargo Center — which had lots of Eagles chants during the game — as the Flyers failed to get off a shot during an anemic power play midway through the third period.

The Flyers were 0 for 2 on the power play and are 0 for 10 over their last four games.

3. Getting some second-period “jump.”

After a sluggish first period, the Flyers regrouped. They had the first six shots of the second period. No matter.  Flyers killer Mathew Barzal got position on Tony DeAngelo and tapped in a slick goal-mouth feed from Noah Dobson to put the Isles ahead, 2-0, with 11:42 left in the second.

Just 2:21 later, DeAngelo made amends. He whipped a point shot that Nick Deslauriers redirected past Varlamov from the high slot. That got the Flyers within 2-1.

“Great job by Tony. I didn’t even have to move my stick that much,” Deslauriers said.

4. The Flyers looked sloppy at the start.

Philly scrambled at the start, making mistakes in their defensive end and making Carter Hart scramble to keep the puck out of the net. Ivan Provorov also made a big play as he cleared the puck from the blue paint before the Isles could knock it into an empty net.

The Flyers, playing their first game since Jan. 28, survived that early flurry and a delay-of-game penalty. They were fortunate to be in a scoreless tie after the first seven-plus minutes, during which the Islanders had an 8-1 shots domination.

“We didn’t come out as hard as we’re used to,” Deslauriers said.

In the opening period, the Isles outshot the Flyers, 15-7.

“Men against boys in the first period,” Tortorella said.

“The start of the game wasn’t what we needed, but I think we did some good things as the game went along,” said left winger James van Riemsdyk, who had seven shot attempts, including a team-high four on goal. “But  obviously we came up short, and that’s not good enough.”

5. The Islanders snapped their power-play drought. Finally.

Kyle Palmieri fired a left-circle shot over Hart’s shoulder with 2:52 left in the first to give the Isles a 1-0 lead. Laughton, arguably the Flyers’ best penalty killer, was in the box for interference.

The goal snapped the Isles’ 0 for 26 power-play drought, which covered parts of 11 games.

Breakaways

The Flyers fell to 10-13-2 at home; they are 11-9-7 on the road. … DeAngelo was dropped to the third pairing with Nick Seeler (three hits, four blocked shots), while Ristolainen (four hits, three shots) was moved up to the second pairing with Travis Sanheim. … Bo Horvat, playing his first game for the Islanders since being acquired from Vancouver, centered Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal on the top line. … Patrick Brown five hits and set a screen on the Deslauriers’ goal. … New York’s Simon Holmstrom hit the post with a first-period shot. … Dobson collected his 100th career assists on Barzal’s goal. … The Flyers host Connor McDavid and Edmonton on Thursday.

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