Flyers-Islanders: Postgame Perspective

A true bounce-back effort puts Flyers back in race

Image1 (6)

After two emotional wins over Detroit and Chicago last week, the energy that the Flyers carried into the weekend was drained as the Penguins handled them on Saturday, then followed with a win on Sunday as well. Detroit added a win over the weekend as well, suddenly dropping the Flyers to three points back in the wildcard race.

Monday's game was another must-win, and not just because it was a chance to gain on the idle Red Wings in one of the remaining games in hand for the Flyers.

The other team the Flyers were chasing in the wildcard race for one of the two playoff spots shifted this weekend from the Penguins to the Islanders, who sat just five points ahead entering Monday for the first of two head-to-heads in Brooklyn in the final 12 games.

The Flyers avenged Saturday's loss and the unfortunate sequence of events this weekend with a gritty 4-1 road win over the Islanders, vaulting them back into the thick of the playoff race.

The beginning of the game didn't give the feel of a successful night. The Flyers allowed the first six shots of the game to the Islanders, including a breakaway chance for Nikolai Kulemin just seconds into the game. Steve Mason bailed the Flyers out early.

The Flyers managed to even the level of play a bit in the remainder of the first, but didn't generate much in terms of scoring chances.

The second was a different story. It took 2:24 to get on the board as Jake Voracek set up Nick Cousins. But as it was on Saturday, the lead was short-lived. Just 1:30 later, the Islanders tied it up on a sloppy defensive shift for the Flyers.

But the turning point for this game came at the 13-minute mark. With the Flyers holding on for dear life on a penalty kill, Mason came up big again with a clutch save in front on a rebound from Brock Nelson. 10 seconds later, a fortuitous bounce off the linesman's skate sent Brandon Manning streaking in on goal and he scored his first NHL goal.

That gave the Flyers the edge. They carried the momentum into the third, scored an early insurance goal and weathered the storm into the final minute when Claude Giroux iced the game with an empty-net goal.

After facing the early shot deficit, the Flyers came back to outshoot the Islanders, 27-24, for the game. Mason was stellar, making several game-changing saves that can only help build the trust the Flyers need to have in him as he serves as the guy between the pipes for the stretch run.

In addition, the Flyers continued to get scoring from unlikely sources. Cousins, Manning and Sam Gagner have combined for just 15 goals this season, 13 of them coming since the start of February. 

The more you look at Saturday's loss, the more you can now classify it as just one of those games. Pittsburgh has been playing hot. The Flyers have been a solid team and the deserving victor in three of their last four. For a team that is 9-1-1 in their last 11 games, you have to expect that for one game, all of the bounces and energy just don't go your way. The timing was unfortunate, but the message from that loss was simple: turn the page.

The page turned to another winning chapter on Monday night, as the Flyers brought themselves back to life with a convincing win against another team they are chasing down in the playoff hunt. But just as the Flyers needed a quick response to a disappointing loss, they have to have short memories on the win. They hit the ice again less than 24 hours later in Columbus.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

Go to top button