Saturday night’s Islanders-Flyers matchup was a hard fought battle between both teams. There were the Flyers who dominated with shots on goal relentlessly throughout the game and managed more time in the Islander’s zone. Then there were also the Islanders who converted on crucial plays to push them ahead early on. These two teams have a season so far with very close games. With the exception of one game, all of them resulted in either a one goal win or one goal loss for either. However when you dig deeper, the Islanders seem to be getting stronger as the season moves along. The only losses they faced with the Flyers were the first three games, but the last three were credited to them. This being said it seems as if the hard fought games are becoming more and more in the Islanders favor as they may not dominate in certain areas like puck possession or zone time, but they use the room they do have to put up points and get on the board.
Take Anthony Beauvillier in tonight’s game for example. Beauvillier put up his seventh and eighth goals tonight by scoring when the opportunity was just right. His first goal went right under the arm of Flyers’ goaltender Carter Hart as Hart was initially playing the puck to the left post only for the puck to be passed over to Beauvillier on the right side. Trying to get back, Hart dove across the net, but this left room underneath him as his upper body was above the ice. Beauvillier with a quick wrist shot put the puck in below the arm of Hart and into the back of the net to mark the game at 1-0 in the first. At this point of the game, the Islanders were desperately trying to get these types of opportunities as they were getting out shot in the defensive zone due to a strong Flyers’ offensive. After the first period it was a recorded 10 shots to 3 with Islanders falling to the latter half.
When moving into the second period, there was hope that the Islanders would become more dominant on the ice as they had done against the Washington Capitals where they took over the Capitals net and managed to get shot after shot on goaltender Ilya Samsonov. Unfortunately they fell short once again in this area, but what makes up for this is that they were able to gain a two goal lead through the few chances they did have.
Once again it was Anthony Beauvillier who scored off a pass from Mathew Barzal. Barzal positions himself where he is pulling the defense towards him along the wing. This opened up the center of the ice allowing Beauvillier a lane to rush in and take the one-timer off the pass. Hart had open eyes to make the save, but the shot slipped past him as he went down to the ice.
With a two goal lead, but continuing to spend too much time in their own zone, the Flyers managed to catch up with two goals from Claude Giroux. It was apparent that something needed to change in New York’s game play to force pucks deep and to help Ilya Sorokin in net who faced 32 shots in regulation time compared to Hart who only saw 21. Despite this, the Islanders found themselves out of time and faced an overtime 3-on-3 game that all too quickly turned into a shootout.
Round after round both Carter Hart and Ilya Sorokin stood on their heads as player after player took their trying shot. Sorokin even went so far as to rob Giroux once again with such patience on his slow ascend towards the net, this gave the Islanders the chance they needed to pull ahead. Finally, Barzal stepped up to the plate and got the lone goal past Hart with the help of his fast stick work in front of the net and a speeding wrist shot down low. Then once after Sean Couturier missed the last shot for the Flyers, the Islanders’ win was secured.