Bill Meltzer: Flyers-Isles Wrapup: Philly Pilloried in 7-4 Loss



Playing their final game at Nassau County Coliseum, the Philadelphia Flyers sustained a 7-4 whipping at the hands of the Eastern Conference leading New York Islanders in a Martin Luther King day matinee. The Islanders outshot Philadelphia, 41-29, for the game.

Much of the play was wide open — too wide open for the Flyers to contain a team with the type of speed that the Islanders generate on the rush and the counterattack.

Neither team was the least impressive defensively but the Flyers were worse. New York simply outgunned Philadelphia and the Flyers were the more mistake prone team. The Philadelphia forwards and defensemen were equally culpable.

The Flyers repeatedly shot themselves in the foot against a dangerous team, and fell into a quick 2-0 hole. They took steps toward getting back into the game but then had additional lapses that the aggressive Islanders were quick to pounce upon.

The tilt was also a very physical game, especially in the third period. The final credited hit totals (59 for the Islanders, 39 for Philly) were a little excessive but it was a game with a lot of heavy hits and New York got the better of it. Cal Clutterbuck was credited with 10 hits for the Islanders. Luke Schenn was credited with seven for Philadelphia.

Starting Flyers goaltender Rob Zepp lasted 31:19, giving up four goals on 20 shots. He was not horrendous but struggled with rebounds and was unable to come up with a couple of desperately needed momentum saves. Zepp did make a tremendous skate save on Casey Cizikas on a New York shorthanded bid in the first period but, otherwise, the goaltending in this game was no better than average.

Ray Emery went the rest of the way, getting charged with the loss due to a late Flyers’ goal that gave them their fourth goal of the afternoon. Emery stopped 18 of 20 shots in 26:56. The final Islanders’ goal was an empty netter.

Jaroslav Halak was not stellar for the Islanders, either. He looked ordinary in yielding four goals on 29 shots and made a costly mistake behind his own net to give Philly a sniff at getting back in the game.

Nikolay Kulemin paced the New York attack with even strength and shorthanded goals, plus an assist. The Islanders also got one goal apiece from Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey, Nick Leddy, John Tavares (power play) and Anders Lee (empty net). All but Bailey had two-point afternoons. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk chipped in a pair of assists.

Mark Streit (power play), Michael Del Zotto, Claude Giroux and Chris VandeVelde scored for the Flyers. Jakub Voracek had two assists, as did Brayden Schenn. Voracek attempted five shots on goal but all five got blocked. The Art Ross Trophy race leader has had 17 shot attempts blocked over the last four games.

After the game, Flyers head coach Craig Berube said he was particularly displeased with the play of the entire Sean Couturier line — Matt Read and Couturier were minus-five and R.J. Umberger was minus four. Berube said the unit was not competing or working hard enough for a trio the team relies on to play against other team’s top lines.

Berube said of the goaltending that Zepp was “OK” but he’d “seen enough” after four goals. He was undecided as to whether Emery or Zepp would start on Tuesday against Pittsburgh.

The Flyers also suffered two more injuries. Veteran defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo went down in the third period and had to be helped up the tunnel. Berube said the player was doubtful for Tuesday. Nick Schultz sustained an upper-body injury. 1ST PERIOD

The Flyers got a 3-on-2 rush in the opening half minute but Halak denied Simmonds’ shot streaking down the left wing

New York capitialized on its first scoring chance, as the speedy Grabner flew past Carlo Coliacovo after getting a pass from Nikolay Kulemin. The Austrian winger then roofed a left circle shot over Zepp’s glove to make it 1-0 at 1:32.

Moments later, a sliding Michael Del Zotto broke up a New York 2-on-1 with his stick.

Voracek got a boarding minor just outside the defensive blueline at 4:35. The Isles went on the game’s first power play. New York generated a lot of good puck movement and pressure but the Flyers survived.

The Islanders extended the lead to 2-1 at 8:06. Kulemin potted the juicy rebound of a Boychuk shot as Vincent Lecavalier floated in no man’s land Luke Schenn was looking for the loose puck and failed to box out the goal scorer. Grabner got the secondary assist on New York’s second goal on its first four shots.

Over the next couple shifts, the Flyers generated attack time but could not solve Halak.

Zepp denied Frans Nielsen on a bang-bang chance in front with about 8:30 left in the period. Shots at this point were 6-6. With 7:15 left, Simmonds was unable to pot a backhanded rebound attempt in front of the net.

With five minutes left in the period, John Tavares took the puck away from Luke Schenn at the Philadelphia blueline but Del Zotto broke up a one-on-one play as Tavares moved over the middle.

The Flyers went on their first power play at 15:48. Calvin De Haan went off for tripping in the defensive zone.

Early in the power play, Zepp had to make a spectacular left skate save on Casey Cizikas off a counter-attacking Isles’ 2-on-1. The Flyers did not score at the other end.

Shots in the first period were 14-9 in Philly’s favor. Faceoffs were 12-10 Flyers.New York got credited with 22 hits in the first period to 13 for the Flyers. 2ND PERIOD

The Flyers flubbed a 3-on-2 in the first minute of the first period with an intended pass for an open Del Zotto being sent wide by Giroux.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare kept his feet moving on the forecheck to draw a holding penalty on Brock Nelson at 3;05. Philadelphia received its second power play of the game. After flirting with a shorthanded goal on their previous disadvantage, the Isles’ nabbed on this time.

Kulemin blocked a shot by Matt Read up high in the defensive zone and went off on a clean breakaway with Read struggling to generate any speed on the backcheck. Moving in on Zepp, Kulemin got the goalie to commit first on a deke to the backhand, pulled the puck to the forehand and elevated the shot home to make it 3-0. The unassisted shorthanded goal was at 4:53 on the Islanders’ 10th shot of the game.

With 12:33 left in the period, Anders Lee split the defense and got a tough shot off from the slot. Zepp made the stop.

Philly got its third power play at 8:17. Cizikas went off for an offensive-zone high sticking penalty. This time the Flyers scored to make it 3-1.

Halak denied a Brayden Schenn re-direction of a Voracek shot/pass and the long rebound came out to Streit in the mid-slot. The defenseman’s blast tricked through Halak and into the net. Streit’s seventh goal of the season was assisted by Schenn and Voracek at 9:07.

Sean Couturier went off for hooking at 9:44. New York went on its second power play of the game. Once again, the Isles generated a lot of pressure — and had some rebounds available in the slot — but the Flyers got through the kill only to be scored on just as the penalty expired to extend the lead to 4-1.

On the fourth New York goal, Bailey stashed home the rebound of Nick Leddy shot at 11:49. Ryan Strome got the secondary assist. Zepp was removed from the game at this point after stopping 16 of 20 shots. Emery came in to relieve the starter.

Emery got tested quickly, facing a barrage of shots. At 14:00 he had to deny a shot from the slot by a pinching Leddy.

Philly sliced the deficit to 4-2 at 15:12 on a bit of a broken play. Voracek carried the puck up the left wing and put the puck at the net with Del Zotto joining the rush. It got blocked en route by the defense but went right to Del Zotto, who stashed the puck past Halak for his third goal of the season. Brayden Schenn got the secondary assist.

Andrew MacDonald received a tripping minor behind the New York net at 16:25. The Islanders got their third power play. Philly staged its best kill of the three but soon took another penalty. Voracek went off for hooking at 19:14. This time the Isles made Philly pay to re-open a three-goal lead at 5-2.

The Islanders won a battle along the right side boards and then the deadly Tavares got open in front. He elevated his 21st goal of the season on a backhanded shot to the short side. Nielsen and Okposo got the assists. A frustrated and furious Bellemare broke his stick over the bench as he skated off the ice.

Shots in the second period were 20-7 in the Islanders’ favor (29-21 New York through two periods). Faceoffs were 14-9 Flyers (26-19 Flyers through two periods). 3RD PERIOD

The Flyers received an early third period gift. Halak turned the puck over to Zac Rinaldo behind the net. Rinaldo found a wide open Claude Giroux skating into point blank range with a yawning net staring at him. Giroux made no mistake as Philly cut the deficit to 5-3.

Giroux’s 15th goal of the season was assisted by Rinaldo at the 49-second mark

The hitting intensity picked up considerably over the next several minutes, with numerous crunching hits in open ice and along the walls.

Carlo Colaicovo got shaken up on a play in fromt of the Flyers net and had to be helped off the ice with 14:25 left in the third period. The oft-injured veteran looked like he could not put any weight on his left foot as he was assisted down the tunnel. However, he walked around the dressing room after the game.

The Islanders made it a 6-3 game at.5:45 Leddy’s point shot through traffic made its way home. Tavares and Bailey got the assists.

With about 4:30 left, Voracek sprang Brayden Schenn up the left wing. Schenn tried to pick a corner but missed high and wide.

At 17:36, Luke Schenn wound up for a slap shot from the right point and VandeVelde deflected it home in front to cut the gap to 6-4. VandeVelde’s fifth goal

The Flyers pulled Emery for an extra attacker. The Islanders’ Lee scored an unassisted goal at 18:57 on a shot from just outside the Philly blueline.

Shots in the third period were 12-8 Islanders (41-29 Islanders for the game). Faceoffs were 9-7 Flyers (35-26 Flyers for the game).