In a game marked by near-constant special teams play for two periods, the Flyers prevailed in overtime, 3-2, in the Allentown half of split-squad games with the New York Islanders on Wednesday. Five postgame observations:
1. Slow start, strong finish - There was little flow to the first period at the PPL Center, largely due to a combined seven minor penalties (four on the Flyers, three on the Islanders in the opening 20 minutes). The Flyers got outshot, 13-5, in the opening stanza and went off trailing, 1-0, after a 5-on-3 power play goal by impressive Islanders rookie hopeful Mathew Barzal off a feed from Joshua Ho Sang.
By the third period, most of the play was at 5-on-5 and the tempo picked up considerably. The Flyers strung several strong shifts together but the Islanders regained the Flyers zone and with 24 seconds left in regulation, Anders Lee stuffed home a puck behind Leland Irving, who came in to replace starter Michal Neuvirth in the third period.
In the 3-on-3 overtime, the Islanders came out attacking and controlled the opening shift. A good defensive play by Dale Weise sprung Nolan Patrick on a 2-on-1 with Shayne Gostisbehere. Receiving a tape-to-tape feed from Patrick in the right slot, "Ghost" rifled home the game winner at the 53-second mark.
2. Leier shows versatility - At the American Hockey League level with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, Taylor Leier has been an all-situations player. Thus far in his stints in the NHL, he's primarily been cast in an energy-line and defensive oriented role.
On Wednesday night, Leier had the opportunity to be used in a variety of situations for Dave Hakstol's team. Apart from his two power play goals, he was on the ice to defend a late one-goal lead. He used his speed well and forechecked effectively, as well.
"It's definitely confidence boosting," Leier said. "When you get out there in those situations, you want to make the most of every minute out there. ..... I try to pride myself on not taking nights off. Today was no different."
Video: Gostisbehere and Patrick touch on their game winner3. Patrick and Lindblom are already 200-foot players - While Patrick has made a few impressive plays with the puck during his two preseason appearances and the Rookie Game, he is still getting his bearings in asserting himself offensively. His game picked up in the third period and culminated in the picturesque setup of Gostisbehere on the game-winner.
Lindblom has subtly had a solid preseason to date, winning puck battles and generally showing good hockey sense. On the second Leier goal, Lindblom made a nice little touch pass out to Gostisbehere at the point to start the passing sequence that finished with Leier scoring through a screen.
4. Young defensemen asserting themselves - In their own way, each of Sam Morin, Robert Hagg and Travis Sanheim gave strong accounts for themselves in Wednesday's game. None were flawless on every shift but all played well overall.
"Overall, I thought it was a pretty good effort by our young guys," Hakstol said. "It wasn't a real clean game. Guys had to get down in the trenches and I think our guys did that for the most part."
Morin used his size and reach to his advantage, didn't force the play and generally stayed disciplined. Hagg quietly turned out an efficient effort and seemed to click with Gostisbehere as his defense partner. Sanheim, who had been good with the puck on the attack but had a few own-zone miscues in the Rookie Game and first preseason game, by far had his best all-around game of the preseason to date.
5. Good start for Neuvirth - Playing his first game since his frightening fainting spell and concussion late last season, Michal Neuvirth battled through traffic and came up with several clutch stops in stopping 16 of 17 shots over 40 minutes. On the lone goal he yielded, no goalie was going to prevent Barzal's goal on the 5-on-3 power play once the pass from Ho Sang got across to him. From there, Barzal made no mistake in hitting the net before Neuvirth could move over laterally.
GAME #2 - ISLANDERS 3, FLYERS 2 at Barclays Center
Flyers squad falls just short of comeback in Brooklyn
The Islanders broke open a 1-1 deadlock with a pair of third period goals that propelled them to an eventual 3-2 win over the Flyers in the Brooklyn half of Wednesday night's split-squad game at Barclays Center.
The Flyers took an early lead when Travis Konecny scored 52 seconds into the contest, beating Thomas Greiss from the left circle. Will O'Neill and Greg Carey assisted to make it a 1-0 game.
The Islanders answered near the period's halfway point, at the 9:12 mark, when Jeff Kubiak went behind the Flyers net and found Devon Toews alone out in front. Toews beat Alex Lyon with a one-timer to knot the game at 1-1, where it stayed through the rest of the first period and through all of the second.
With less than nine minutes to play, the Islanders broke the stalemate. A pestering forecheck worked the puck free from T.J. Brennan along the wall in the Flyers zone, and Yannick Turcotte found Johnny Boychuk in front for another one-timer that found the upper right corner over Lyon's glove. Then with 2:50 to play, the Isles added another one on a power play when Andrew Ladd followed up his own rebound, making it 3-1.
But the Flyers weren't done, and fought back within a goal during a late power play of their own. With Scott Mayfield in the box for holding and Lyon on the bench for an extra attacker, Brennan blasted a shot from the left circle through traffic and past Kristers Gudlevskis in a 6-on-4 situation with 1:06 to play. Konecny was credited with the only assist, giving him a two-point night. The Flyers continued to press with an extra man for the final minute, but could not find the equalizer.
Lyon went the distance for Philadelphia, stopping 26 of 29. Greiss played two periods, turning away 17 of 18 Flyers bids, while Gudlevskis stopped nine of 10.
Ivan Kosorenkov was a late add to the Flyers roster for this game and continued his impressive camp, using his speed to cause headaches for the Islanders and often giving New York's veteran defensive pairing of Boychuk and Nick Leddy all they could handle. Brennan led the way for the Flyers with seven shots on goal and 10 total attempts in 20:49 of ice time.