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Flyers vs. Islanders recap: Split-squad action ends in split results

Gostisbehere plays hero again as Flyers down Isles in overtime.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The annual Flyers split-squad preseason games: what a time to be alive.

Shayne Gostisbehere scored the game-winner in overtime and the Flyers of Lehigh Valley beat the Islanders 3-2 to avoid a sweep in the split-squad games featuring the two Metro rivals on Wednesday night. More on the Flyers in Brooklyn later, but first to the main attraction: the Flyers in Lehigh Valley.

First period

The Islanders took advantage of an early 5-on-3 courtesy of two Flyers slashing penalties with Mathew Barzal potting his second goal of the preseason on a nice backdoor setup to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Already down two men, Flyers defenseman Mark Alt lost his skate guard and essentially gave the Islanders a three-man advantage moments before Barzal found the back of the net.

And get used to seeing players going off for slashing this season as it’s a point of emphasis for league officials this season in response to the slew of players hurt by slashes last season.

Thanks to the new faceoff violation penalty being called on New York’s Josh Ho-Sang, the Flyers power play got some work with Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick and Shayne Gostisbehere manning the first unit. They didn’t score, but they got a nice chance off the work of Lindblom and Gostisbehere, who worked a little two-man game along the wall that led to a nice deflection chance.

Sam Morin straight-up decked an Islander in open ice, and was challenged to a fight by Ross Johnston — only Morin didn’t take the bait and gave the Flyers a much-needed power play. The second unit got a nice chance off a feed from Jori Lehtera to Taylor Leier, who couldn’t beat Christopher Gibson from the right slot.

On the Flyers’ fourth penalty kill of the period Morin continued to do nice work, taking Ho-Sang off the puck in the corner and finding Robert Hagg. Ho-Sang is a good skater and shifty, Morin did a nice job staying with the smaller, quicker player on the penalty kill.

The Flyers’ best scoring chance of the period came in the final minute with Dale Weise jumping on a loose puck off a faceoff in front but much like last season, Weise failed to pot the juicy scoring chance.

Second period

With the Flyers on the power play to start the second period Leier redeemed himself quickly, taking a feed from Dale Weise on the rush and beating Gibson to tie the score at 1-1. Building off his scoring chance in the first Leier drove the net and got a great pass from Weise to start the scoring for the Flyers. Moments later Sanheim found Leier with a stretch pass but Gibson made the save on what became a semi-breakaway.

Michal Neuvirth was under siege on the Islanders’ fifth power play but the veteran stood tall, finding the puck through traffic and keeping the Flyers even despite a lot of zone time and a few good scoring chances.

After yet another faceoff violation on New York didn’t yield anything for the Flyers power play Neuvirth made his best save of his night, stopping Ho-Sang on a breakaway brought about by straight-up speed in the neutral zone from the young forward.

In what was mostly another disjointed period thanks to penalties, we saw a glimpse of what Travis Sanheim can do around the five-minute mark. He grabbed a loose puck in his own zone and joined the rush to create a three-on-two for the Flyers that resulted in a scoring chance.

Then we saw the good of Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom, with Patrick finding Lindblom in front with an aerial pass that didn’t go in but did result in, you guessed it, a penalty.

On the ensuing power play Taylor Leier struck again, firing a wrist shot from the right circle past the glove of Gibson to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. Gostisbehere got the lone assist on the goal.

Just before the end of the second period (and of his night) Neuvirth got busy again, making a trio of saves in the final minute to preserve the Flyers’ lead before intermission.

Third period

As expected, Neuvirth departed after two periods (16 saves on 17 shots) and Leland Irving enters in net to try and protect the Flyers’ 2-1 lead.

With the refs feeling the somewhat sleepy start to the third they decided to spice things up, throwing both Sam Morin and Kyle Schempp off to create some four-on-four hockey. Travis Sanheim used the extra ice to go on the offensive, creating a chance off his own rush up ice.

Gibson’s best save of the night came at the 7:30 mark, stoning Sanheim in front off a nice feed from Corban Knight to keep the score at 2-1. Sanheim jumped in the offensive zone to create chances a few times and looked good doing it. Playing with the defensive-minded Brandon Manning certainly gave Sanheim some extra freedom in that regard.

After pinning the Flyers deep in their own zone in the final minute with their net empty, Islanders regular Anders Lee shoved the puck past Irving with 23 seconds left to tie it at 2-2 and send the game to overtime.

Overtime

The Flyers wasted no time in the extra session. Nolan Patrick found n Shayne Gostisbehere for the game-winner with a perfect pass on a two-on-one to give the Flyers the 3-2 win.

Flyers GM Ron Hextall alluded to wanting “some things” (more offense, maybe?) from Patrick before the game and the rookie delivered some immediate results with his assist on Ghost’s game-winner.

Flyers in Brooklyn

The other half of the Flyers’ split-squad took an early 1-0 on a Travis Konecny goal, but were unable to make it a sweep as the Islanders took that game by a 3-2 final.

Devon Toews, Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ladd scored for that mostly veteran Islanders team while the Flyers got goals form the aforementioned Konecny and a late marker from TJ Brennan in the loss.

That Flyers roster featured far less NHL talent that the one the Islanders put out there so it’s honestly not the end of the world.