Islanders 4, Flyers 0: Carter Hart pulled in shutout as losing streak reaches six games
The Flyers had a chance to play spoiler, but failed royally against their division rival.
It's about that time of year, folks. Bubble playoff teams across the NHL are scratching and clawing to earn themselves a coveted postseason berth. The Flyers are most definitely not one of those teams, but the New York Islanders are. And the Flyers had an opportunity to put a significant dent in their division rival's playoff hopes Saturday night.
Unfortunately, the Flyers were unable to successfully play spoiler at UBS Arena, falling to the Islanders by a score of 4-0. The Flyers have now lost six straight outings, allowing an average of 4.5 goals per game during that span.
A loss to the Flyers would have served as a major blow to the Islanders' playoff aspirations. The Isles are in a three-way sprint with the Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins for the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots, and the Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings Saturday afternoon to usurp the Islanders in the standings. However, this critical win keeps the Isles in the thick of the race.
Carter Hart, who has typically been stellar for the Flyers this season, was sat in favor of Felix Sandstrom for the third period after allowing three goals on 18 shots in the game's first 40 minutes. Hart recently suffered a lower-body ailment that caused him to miss five games, though it doesn't sound like the goalie change was injury-related.
"No idea. Didn't feel like I deserved to be pulled, but it is what it is," said Hart.
The Flyers got off to a good start with a 15-8 shot advantage in the game's first 20 minutes, but it was Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield who scored the first goal of the night 14:19 into the opening stanza. Mayfield flung a wrister from the point that appeared to deflect in off of James van Riemsdyk in the slot.
While the Flyers controlled a good portion of the first period, the script was flipped completely in the middle frame. The Islanders led the Flyers 10-4 in shots and scored twice in the second period to put the Orange & Black in a 3-0 hole.
Veteran winger Brock Nelson doubled the Islanders' lead toward the game's midway point with a quick wrister on the rush. Noah Dobson sprung Nelson with a pretty stretch pass to create the scoring chance. Not long after Nelson's marker, Samuel Bolduc netted his second NHL goal off a cross-ice feed from Islanders newcomer (and Travis Konecny's second cousin) Bo Horvat. Zach Parise appeared to score a goal of his own in the period, but the score was overturned after it was ruled he batted the puck past the goal line with a high stick.
The Flyers fired eight shots on net in the final period in an effort to orchestrate a comeback, but Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin was having absolutely none of it. In fact, Hudson Fasching ended up scoring with a little over a minute remaining in the contest for good measure.
Sorokin, who will likely get a solid chunk of Vezina votes, earned his league-leading sixth shutout of the season.
For what it's worth, the Arizona Coyotes defeated the Anaheim Ducks Saturday to get within two points of the Flyers for 26th place in the league standings. If Arizona leapfrogs the Flyers in the standings, the Flyers' lottery odds will increase to 7.5%. It should be noted, though, that the Flyers have a game in hand on the Coyotes.
The Flyers have just three games remaining in their season. They'll return to Philly to take on the mighty Boston Bruins Sunday evening, and they'll play their final home game of the season Tuesday against the not-so-mighty Columbus Blue Jackets. They'll then hit the road one final time to end their campaign at United Center against the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night.