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Islanders late rally falls short

by Cory Wright / New York Islanders

The New York Islanders made a furious push in the final six and a half minutes of the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers, but fell 3-2 to their division rivals Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders trailed 3-0 entering the final seven minutes, but Michael Grabner and John Tavares scored 35 seconds apart, sending a jolt of energy through the team.  

John Tavares cut the Flyers lead to 3-2 with his goal at 14:05 of the third.

“We didn’t get the results we wanted,” Matt Martin said. “But when we finally beat [Ilya Bryzgalov] I think we had some life in the arena and the fans were great in the last 10 minutes. It got us going again.”

Scott Hartnell’s second period goal -  a high wrist shot that beat Evgeni Nabokov glove side - held up as the game-winner for the Flyers. At that point, the goal appeared to be an insurance marker, before the Islanders kicked into high gear and found their scoring touch.

“We saw how when we forecheck how successful we can be,” Mark Streit said. “But 10 minutes out of 60 minutes is just not enough against a team like Philadelphia.”

The loss is the Islanders fifth in a row and their second straight against the Flyers. Enforcer Zac Rinaldo opened the scoring Thursday at 8:41 of the first period, throwing a puck on net from a sharp angle that snuck past Evgeni Nabokov.

The Flyers top line widened the gap before the end of the period, as Jaromir Jagr walked out of the corner and fed Claude Giroux, who one-timed a shot stick side on Nabokov. 

The Islanders had an opportunity to answer back at the end of the second period with a 3:58 power play, but could not take advantage of the man advantage. 

“We gave them two gifts,” a fired-up Jack Capuano said after the game. “I thought we could have got some momentum back late in the second period when we had back-to-back power plays, and we didn’t execute at all.”

Bryzgalov entered the game with three consecutive shutouts and was 6:30 away from his fourth clean sheet. Grabner ended the Russian netminder’s streak at 2:49:43, deflecting a Streit slap-pass from the point. Thirty-five seconds later, Streit set up Tavares in front of the net for his 31st goal, but that is as close as the Islanders would get.

After Thursday’s loss, the Islanders embark on a five game, two-week road trip starting in Montreal on Saturday night. Action gets under way at the Bell Centre at 7 p.m.

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