The Flyers put together their best offensive performance of the season tonight. In true Philadelphia fashion, it still resulted in a loss.
Overcoming a poor start by goaltender Steve Mason, the Flyers fought back from a 3-1 deficit to send the game to overtime. But after a fruitless three-on-three session, they fell to the New York Islanders in a shootout, losing by a score of 4-3. Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 43 saves, not including the fact that he kept Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Evgeny Medvedev from scoring in the shootout.
Within the game's first minute, Flyers fans were reminded of Andrew MacDonald's fatal flaw in his first NHL action of the season. He allowed Anders Lee too much space entering the offensive zone, giving Lee the opportunity to find Frans Nielsen on the rush for the Islanders' first tally of the night.
The Flyers battled back. Facing down a New York power play, Claude Giroux and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare engineered a two-on-none off a broken play, leaving the Islanders in their dust. It was Bellemare who would do the honors, beating Halak to tie the game at one. Unfortunately, Philadelphia could not keep the Islanders off the scoresheet through the rest of the power play. With time winding down, Nick Leddy blasted a slapshot by Mason to hand New York back the lead.
The next five minutes were all Islanders, as the Flyers struggled to advance the puck through the neutral zone or exit their own zone cleanly. But a late first period power play gave Philadelphia some life, even if they were unable to best Halak in spite of constant pressure. After the man advantage concluded, the Flyers closed the period with some strong shifts, giving hope that the second period would produce a better outcome.
It didn't look promising early. Mason was beat by Nielsen for a second time a minute into the period, and the Islanders extended their lead to two. But Flyers coach Dave Hakstol was quick to make a shift. He yanked Mason and replaced him with Michal Neuvirth, clearly feeling that Mason was not at his best tonight. The Flyers starter allowed three goals on ten shots.
From that moment until the end of the period, it was all Philadelphia. The second line of Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds led the charge, generating an endless supply of pressure in the offensive zone via a punishing forecheck. But it was the fourth line that would break through, as Ryan White slipped one past Halak to cut the lead back down to one goal.
The Flyers were unable to break Halak again in the period, but it was not for lack of effort. They peppered the New York goaltender with 17 shots, and dominated puck possession. Simmonds came the closest to tying the score, as he beat Halak on the power play only for the goal to be overturned due to a distinct kicking motion. Philadelphia entered the locker room at the second intermission behind on the scoreboard, but confident in their overall quality of play.
The hard work finally paid off early in the third period. Claude Giroux ripped a one-time from the slot past Halak to tie the score at 3-3. Not content with a tie score, the Flyers kept coming, and dominated play through the first half of the third. But Halak was up to the task, and Philadelphia failed to capitalize on numerous golden opportunities, including two by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare that could have given the team their first lead of the game. The Islanders pushed back late, but strong play from Neuvirth sent the game to overtime and later, the shootout where the Flyers would ultimately fall.
Comment of the Night:
This team hasnt been the same since trading Zeke Remaldo