New York scored three second period goals to take a commanding 4-1 lead into the third before a furious rally from the Flyers saw a tie game with less than seven minutes remaining. But the Islanders weren’t done, with Mathew Barzal finishing off the Flyers with 6:28 remaining to put New York up for good at 5-4.
Nolan Patrick had two goals and an assist to pace the Flyers, who also got a goal and an assist from captain Claude Giroux to give him 97 points on the season. Petr Mrazek stopped 32 of 37 shots in the losing effort while Thomas Greiss made 27 saves on 31 shots to earn the win for the Islanders.
Sean Couturier had an early chance, but Thomas Greiss made the pad save on the first shift of the game as the Flyers looked for a quick start knowing a win and a loss by the Panthers would clinch a playoff berth.
Then it was the Islanders’ chance on a partial 2-on-1 at the 3:59 mark, but the centering pass across to noted Flyer kill Cal Clutterbuck was broken up nicely by Ivan Provorov.
A couple strong shifts in-a-row after the five-minute mark would reward the game’s first power play, with Couturier going off for tripping at the 7:05 mark.
John Tavares wouldn’t waste much time on the man-advantage, firing a quick snap shot past Petr Mrazek to make it 1-0 Islanders. Tavares was left wide-open in the slot and walked in on Mrazek, who didn’t get much help as his penalty killers lost the Islanders’ best player.
John Tavares put the Isles up 1-0. pic.twitter.com/X8RXhAFFFw— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 3, 2018
If you were wondering how Tavares got so open, the Flyers’ penalty kill is as bad as advertised.
With 8:14 left in the period the Flyers would get their best scoring chance yet, but Valtteri Filppula was robbed by Greiss on a 2-on-1 after a nice delayed pass over from Jordan Weal. Greiss got the blocker on Filppula’s shot, moving across crease to make a fine stop.
Jordan Weal with a nice pass, but Valtteri Filppula could not Finnish. pic.twitter.com/3lI79wk2ZJ— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 3, 2018
In the final minute before intermission it was a couple of kids to jumpstart the Flyers’ offense in this one.
Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick hooked up on a quick passing play in the middle of the ice and Patrick found Wayne Simmonds in the right circle to bury his 24th of the season to tie things at 1-1 with 52 seconds left in the first. After Lindblom carried the puck into the Islanders’ zone, Patrick aggressively called for the puck knowing Simmonds had room down the right side.
Thought 20 minutes the Flyers sure didn’t look like a team fighting to clinch a playoff spot, but they came away from a bad period with a tie game and plenty of time to turn things around.
Jake Voracek would send the Flyers to the penalty kill just 1:26 into the second thanks to a high-sticking call on Thomas Hickey. Though the Flyers would technically survive the power play, they wouldn’t survive much longer as the Islanders would keep control and take back the lead. Anthony Beauvillier wheeled to the top of the slot and ripped a wrist shot to the top corner past Mrazek to make it 2-1 Islanders at the 3:43 mark. It’s his 20th goal of the season and fourth-straight game with a goal.
The Islanders continued to buzz after the Beauvillier goal, with Brock Nelson testing Mrazek to the blocker side once again. This time Mrazek would come up with a big save to keep the Flyers’ deficit at one.
With a shooting gallery continuing to come at Mrazek, the Islanders would cash in again, with Tavares potting his second of the game at the 11:06 mark to make it 3-1. The Flyers paid the price for a another long chunk of game time spent watching the Islanders carry play and fire shots towards Mrazek at will.
The Flyers finally showed some life with back-to-back shifts with seven minutes remaining in the second period with Jake Voracek hopping up with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. With his club being outshot 14-3 to that point of the period, it was time for Dave Hakstol to try something to get a spark.
That spark Hakstol was searching for was lost on the Islanders’ bench, as Mathew Barzal would weave around the Flyers’ defense and rip a shot past the glove of Mrazek to give a commanding 4-1 lead with 3:33 left in the second. It’s his 21st of the season as the goal provided a nice summary of the action so far: the Islanders skating all over and the Flyers and picking a puck out of their own net.
What started as a 1-1 game after one turned sideways for the Flyers in period two as the Islanders scored three times to take a 4-1 lead to the third period. Nothing went right for the Flyers in the middle stanza, to say the least.
Facing a three-goal deficit, a quick start for the Flyers would be paramount if any type of comeback attempt was to gain any sort of steam.
But much like the rest of the night, it was the Islanders getting the early chance with Beauvillier forcing Mrazek to make a big save early in the frame to keep the Flyers within three. As was the case in the first the Flyers had a strong first shift then watching the Islanders calmly start to carry play.
The Flyers would catch a break 2:52 in as Ross Johnston took a bad penalty to give the Flyers their first power play of the night against the Islanders’ dead-last penalty kill.
As was the case late in the first, it was Nolan Patrick giving the Flyers a jolt. Patrick dove to get a stick on a loose puck behind Greiss to put it home and draw the Flyers within two at 4-2.
It’s Patrick’s 12th of the season as he replaced Simmonds on the power play and reward his coach for the change. Shayne Gostisbehere and Claude Giroux picked up the assists on the goal, coming at the 4:07 mark.
Folks, Nolan Patrick is good at hockey. pic.twitter.com/ky8PhNoOsW— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 4, 2018
Riding the momentum of Patrick’s tally, Travis Konecny would draw another penalty at the 7:01 mark to give the Flyers a chance to pull within one. The Flyers would do just that as Patrick would tip home a Voracek shot out front to make it 4-3. It was the second of the night for the rookie, coming at the 8:16 mark with Voracek picking up the lone assist.
Nolan Patrick scores his 2nd goal of the game!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 4, 2018
Flyers trail by one. pic.twitter.com/9FD93z4y6s
While the Flyers’ awful penalty kill has been a killer this season, the Islanders’ penalty kill is even worse and allowed the Flyers right back into the hockey game.
Who else but Claude Giroux to bring the Flyers all the way back from a three-goal deficit?
Giroux finished off a great shift from Michael Raffl, taking a Couturier pass and ripping one past Greiss to tie things up at 4-4 with 6:56 left. The goal was the 30th of the season for the captain, capping a furious third period comeback.
CLAUDE GIROUX SCORES HIS 30TH GOAL OF THE SEASON TO TIE THIS GAME AT 4. pic.twitter.com/alAhNuAp2G— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 4, 2018
The only problem was that the comeback would last all of 28 seconds.
Mathew Barzal would give the Islanders the lead back at 5-4, blowing by Jori Lehtera in a foot race at center and beating Mrazek clean with 6:28 left in the third. Like Patrick, it was the second goal of the game for Barzal, a stone-cold lock for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.
Then to add insult to injury Jake Voracek would pickup a too-many-men call to give the Islanders a power play with the lead and just 4:56 left.
With 1:38 left the Flyers emptied the net with an offensive zone draw desperate to find an equalizer. Greiss came up with two saves, one on a weak rebound chance from Patrick and then on a rolling puck that Voracek launched from the point. Greiss then came up with a pair of point-blank saves on Travis Konecny as the Flyers’ last gasp in the waning seconds to preserve the 5-4 win.