Brandon Manning scored his first NHL goal with seven minutes left in the second period to spark the Flyers past the Islanders. After a scoreless first period, the Flyers got on the board first when Nick Cousins put home a pass from Jake Voracek 2:44 into the second frame. The Islanders knotted the score 90 seconds later on a tally from Kyle Okposo. But the Flyers responded when Manning, freshly sprung from the penalty box, fired a shot into the corner over Tomas Greiss’s shoulder to make it 2-1. Sam Gagner added insurance 4:22 into the third, and Claude Giroux finished things off with an empty-netter with 26.1 seconds to play. Steve Mason earned the win with 23 saves, while Greiss turned aside 23 of the 26 shots he faced.
Much like the Pittsburgh game, an early unsuccessful scoring chance went a long way towards setting the tone of the game, but this time the Flyers were on the right side of things. On Saturday it was Brayden Schenn hitting the post on an early 2-on-1 that would have given the Flyers a lead; on this night, it was Mason coming up huge on a Nikolay Kulemin breakaway just 23 seconds into the game.
But the game turned the Flyers’ way for good on Manning’s goal, which came along with some good luck. Manning had just left the penalty box and was on his way to the bench when Andrew MacDonald fired the puck out of the Flyers’ zone up the left wing boards. It headed towards one of the linesmen, who made a herculean effort to get out of the way. The puck grazed the official, which put it right within Manning’s reach – if it’d hit the linesman dead on, it never would have made it to Manning, and if it had missed him completely, it probably would have gone for an icing. It was a fortuitous bounce that the Flyers gladly accepted, but Manning still had to beat Greiss – which he did with one of the prettiest first-career-goals you’ll ever see.
1. Brandon Manning: The above, plus a solid defensive night that included two hits and a blocked shot.
2. Steve Mason: On his game from the opening seconds, making a stop on the Kulemin breakaway that otherwise could have changed the complexion of the entire evening. He had a handful of other ten-bell stops the rest of the way that frustrated the Islanders and kept the Flyers in control, including a tremendous save immediately prior to Manning's goal.
3. Kyle Okposo: Scored a lunchpail goal to answer the Flyers’ opening salvo just 90 seconds after it happened. It was one of Okposo’s four shots on goal ; he also had a hit and a blocked shot.
Manning’s first NHL goal came in his 66th career NHL game… Andrew MacDonald was a career-high plus-4... Claude Giroux was 18-for-23 (78 pct) on faceoffs… The Flyers were credited with 11 takeaways while forcing 14 Islanders giveaways… Wayne Simmonds led the Flyers with five shots on goal and also had two hits and two takeaways in addition to his assist on Giroux’s empty-netter… Nick Schultz was credited with four hits and four blocked shots.
“You have to respond to games like [Saturday]. Over the course of the season we’re going to have games where we’re not at our best, but it’s how you respond to it. In the past we’ve kind of gone into a lull where we lose three games in a row, but it was good to get it turned around and get two points again.”
“That's what good teams do. I think we’ve been a very good team over the last four months. On Saturday we got outplayed. Pittsburgh is steamrolling everyone right now and they played a good road game. We came into this building, it’s a tough team to play against, and they had a good start but we stood our ground.”