The Philadelphia Flyers dealt with an odd, one-game Midwestern road trip and an injury to exciting young rookie Shayne Gostisbehere this week. Their response was to go out and play one of their best games of the season.
Facing an undermanned New York Islanders team, the Flyers carried play from start to finish and cruised to a 4-0 victory. Matt Read led the way with three points, while Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl and Evgeny Medvedev added goals as well. Steve Mason made 20 saves for his third shutout of the season.
Philadelphia had a stellar first period, but could not turn their territorial dominance into any goals. They outshot the Islanders 11-2 in a stanza played almost entirely at even strength. It wasn't just due to weak shots from the outside, either - Philadelphia created eight high-danger scoring chances per War-On-Ice.com and consistently troubled Isles goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Their best chance came midway through the period, when Michael Raffl found Brayden Schenn for a one-timer from the right faceoff circle. Schenn was unable to make contact with the pass, however, and the game remained scoreless.
They would have better luck in the second. Michael Raffl was the first to strike, taking full advantage of a slick Sean Couturier pass from behind the net and depositing it past Halak. But the story of the period was the endless parade of players visiting the penalty box - seven minor penalties were called during the twenty minutes of play. The constant power plays for both sides did not change the overall direction of play, however, as the Flyers remained fully in control.
When one team is dominating that means the other team is struggling, and the Islanders certainly were not at their best in the second period. They turned the puck over repeatedly and failed to win puck battles in their own end. Their poor defensive zone play helped the Flyers to double their lead. Evgeny Medvedev took advantage of a coverage breakdown during a four-on-four shift midway through the period and drove the net on a cycle, wristing a shot through Halak to give Philadelphia a 2-0 lead that would hold after forty minutes of play.
The Islanders looked slightly better in the third period, but never were able to truly wrest control of the game away from Philadelphia. After a strong early spurt by New York, the Flyers slowly reestablished their cycle game in the offensive zone, making it difficult for the Islanders to create consistent offense. But it was a rush goal that essentially clinched the game for Philadelphia, as Matt Read barely squeezed a shot past Halak for his sixth goal of the year. Sean Couturier would put the finishing touches on the game minutes later, deflecting a Radko Gudas point shot into the net and providing the exclamation point on a stellar team performance.
Comment of the Night:
Dear Philadelphia Flyers,
It’s a pleasure to meet you, again.