Saturday, November 23, 2013

Flyers continue run of success, pound sinking Islanders

Philadelphia, PA -- It didn't come easy, but it seems like nothing ever will for this year's edition of the Flyers.

Despite nearly wasting a three-goal lead which they accumulated in the early stages of the middle period, Matt Read's second straight two-goal performance, plus 36 saves from Steve Mason, paced a 5-2 Philadelphia victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

"I'd say a little bit of luck, (laughs) being in the right spot at the right time," Read admitted about his mini red-light binge. "You know my line mates are doing all the work and I've just been benefiting from them. I give all the credit to those two (Downie and Couturier).  "We'll just keep working together, and hopefully continue to have success."

Stat(s) which definitely means something:  Mason has gone 4-0-2 in his last six appearances with a 1.63 goals against average and a .949 save percentage.

Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux added a goal and assist each for the Flyers, who almost wasted a three-goal lead, but extended their season high of accumulating points to seven straight games (6-0-1) by sweeping a three-game residency.

Brayden Schenn posted a late tally as the hosts upped their record to 7-1-2 over the last three weeks. Craig Berube's club broke even in the win and loss column for the first time all season at 10-10-2, and begin a Florida road trip on Monday against the Panthers with a chance to hit the .500 mark for real by Thanksgiving.

John Tavares and Eric Boulton scored for the Islanders, who have dropped three in a row and eight of their last 10 outings.

Kevin Poulin was chased after Philly opened the scoring with the deciding burst. Anders Nilsson finished up by stopping 12-of-13 shots.

New York got on the board with Tavares' backhander off a Thomas Vanek centering feed with 5:56 on the second-period clock, then climbed within a goal at 2:39 of the third period as Boulton tapped in a Casey Cizikas feed following the latter's left-circle faceoff win.

Stat which might mean nothing: Tavares' score was the first even-strength goal the Flyers had allowed since the third period of a Nov. 9 win over Edmonton.  It ended an incredible run of 345:39.

Scott Hartnell was denied an insurance goal just after the four-minute mark of the third period, when review determined his try from behind the net only reached the inside of the cage after it was lifted off its moorings.

Philly did get the crucial tally with 7:39 to play, as Nilsson steered a missed centering pass into the slot, where Schenn one-timed his gift into the upper-right corner for a 4-2 game.

"I think it was a pass made to me by my brother, but backwards," Schenn said. "Jake [Voracek] tried to feed it and snapped the puck to me. It was good work in the corner by Giroux and Jake. Good things happen when you go to the net." 

The Islanders skated 6-on-5 once the clock ticked down to two minutes remaining, and Read deposited his second of the contest into the empty cage with 49 seconds left.

"Yes, they are a little fragile under pressure but you have to battle through it," said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. "The first goal and the fourth goal we lost D side positioning, Read beats us off the wall then Schenn. We’re just fragile right now but you’re going to have to learn that you might have to win 2-1, 1-0.”

A scoreless first 20 minutes passed where each team unleashed 10 shots on goal.

The Flyers struck at the 46-second mark of the second period. Steve Downie kept the puck alive along the left-wing boards and Sean Couturier's blast from between the circles kicked out, where Read made no mistake on the rebound.

Less than a minute later, Simmonds finished off a 3-on-2 by beating Poulin on the short side from the right circle.

It was 3-0 at 3:48, when Giroux ripped a shot from his usual spot in the left circle past a diving Isles netminder during a power play and Nilsson was called on to take the crease from Poulin.

Notes:  Mason extended his streak of allowing no more than three goals in any start to 22 games since arriving in Philadelphia at March's trade deadline ... The Flyers won three straight home games in the same residency since doing so from Mar. 30-Apr. 3, 2013, and have taken four in a row in Philadelphia overall for
the first time this season ... In addition, the Orange and Black improved to 32-4-2 over the Isles since the start of the 2007-08 season.
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