UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- No matter how well the New York Islanders
play against the Philadelphia Flyers
, they simply can't find a way to beat them.
The evidence was on full display Thursday night.
Despite outplaying Philadelphia for much of the game, the Islanders were once again stymied by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky
, who made 33 saves and improved to 7-0-0 lifetime against New York in the Flyers' 3-2 victory at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
With the loss, the Islanders are once again five games under the .500 mark (15-20-6) and are 1-18-5 against Philadelphia since the end of the 2006-07 season.
, Wayne Simmonds
and Sean Couturier
scored for the Flyers (26-12-4), who will go for their third straight victory Saturday night at Nashville.
"I don't know what it is," Hartnell said when asked to explain Philadelphia's remarkable success against the Islanders. "It's been a lot of games -- I don't know if in a row, but 24, 25 I think it is. Some teams just have a team's number. They haven't had the best team success the last few years since I've been around. I don't want to say it's been easy, but when you have confidence coming into the building and you have a feeling you're going to win, it's a great feeling to have."
Hartnell broke a scoreless tie via the power play at 17:20 of the opening period. Shortly after goaltender Evgeni Nabokov
was whistled for tripping, Hartnell redirected Jaromir Jagr
's feed from the bottom of the right circle past the Isles' goaltender to make it 1-0. It was Hartnell's 19th goal of the season and Jagr's 83rd career assist against the Islanders.
Philadelphia took the one-goal lead into the first intermission despite being outshot by a 12-8 margin.
"It's frustrating for the guys," Isles coach Jack Capuano said. "This is one that I really thought we played well. We came out slow in the first five or six minutes and didn't generate what we wanted to generate. But after that, I thought we played extremely well."
had a glorious opportunity just 2:49 into the game, when he was awarded a penalty shot after All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen
interfered with him while on a shorthanded breakaway. But Bobrovsky slammed the door with a pad save as Grabner tried to beat him through the five-hole.
Bobrovsky thwarted Grabner again midway through the second period to preserve a 1-0 lead. With the teams at even strength, Grabner took a nice cross-ice feed from Josh Bailey
and raced in alone on the Flyers' goaltender. Aiming to beat him via the backhand, Grabner could only shake his head in amazement as Bobrovsky robbed the speedster with a dazzling glove save.
"He was terrific," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of his goaltender. "He looked really sharp through the entire game, and he's looked that way for his last 10 starts or so. He did a good job. He was sharp."
Philadelphia doubled its lead roughly four minutes later thanks to a couple of miscues by Nabokov. Moments after the Isles' goaltender coughed up the puck in the slot, Simmonds seized control along the line to Nabokov's right and put one towards the net that somehow squeaked over the goal line to make it 2-0. It was Simmonds' 11th goal of the season -- and one that he admittedly said caught him by surprise.
"I heard Hartsy yelling, "Back door, back door,' and I just spun and fired," Simmonds said. "Luckily, it went in."
"The puck was rolling and I wasn't sure what I wanted to do," Nabokov said of his giveaway. "I thought we played really well. We had a lot of energy and we had a lot of jump on them. It's tough to swallow, but it's hockey. Those types of games are going to happen."
The Islanders finally solved Bobrovsky early in the third, as Kyle Okposo
scored just 22 seconds into the third period. With the teams at even strength, Andrew MacDonald
made a strong play behind the Flyers' net and attempted to beat Bobrovsky on a wraparound. The puck landed right on Okposo's stick in front, and he quickly roofed it over the Flyers' goalie to make it 2-1. It was Okposo's 10th goal of the season.
Couturier, though, restored Philadelphia's two-goal lead with just 90 seconds remaining in regulation, when he beat Milan Jurcina
to a puck in the neutral zone and proceeded to rip a wrister from the left circle past Nabokov for his eighth goal of the season.
-- who was named an All-Star earlier in the day -- made it 3-2 with his fifth goal in his last nine games with just 15.7 seconds remaining, but it was too late to stop the Isles' woes against the mightier Flyers. The goal was Tavares' 15th of the season and extended his point streak to seven games.
Nabokov, who was denied his 300th career victory, finished with 19 saves. His team was denied what would have been a season-high fourth straight win on home ice.
"We've got to stay positive and keep playing the same way," Isles captain Mark Streit
said. "(Bobrovsky) made some unbelievable saves on Grabner. He's a good goalie. We battled hard, we played physical. This game could have gone either way. We fought hard. Unfortunately, we didn't come out with a win."
The Flyers received a scare late in the third period, when Maxime Talbot
was drilled to the ice by Isles' defenseman Steve Staios
. Talbot was on the ice for at least a minute after the hit, but no penalty was called.
"That's what we're trying to stop in the NHL -- shots like that," Talbot said. "I had no time to react. I thought the point of contact was my head. I didn't see the replay or anything, but from what I felt, it was a pretty dangerous hit."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL