If past experience had taught the New York Islanders
there was one thing they couldn’t do, it was to repeatedly put the Philadelphia Flyers
on the power play and hope to win the game.
The Islanders elected to play with fire, and once again the Flyers were all too happy to burn them.
Vinnie Prospal, Braydon Coburn
and Daniel Briere
all scored with the man advantage to stake the Flyers to a 3-0 lead, and they went on to a 4-1 victory Sunday night at Wachovia Center to move into sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers have now beaten the Islanders six of seven tries this season, and the power play has been a key reason why. Sunday marked the third game the Isles have yielded at least three power-play goals to the Flyers, who are now 13-for-31 in the season series.
also scored and Martin Biron
finished with 32 saves as Philadelphia moved two points ahead of Boston with six games remaining. The Bruins have a game in hand.
“I like the energy in our game we are starting to play with,” said Flyers coach John Stevens
. “We still have things to correct, but no question these points this weekend before we get on the road are critical heading down the stretch.”
broke up Biron’s shutout bid with 4:27 remaining, but it wasn’t nearly enough to prevent the Islanders from officially being eliminated from playoff contention.
“It’s tough to watch sometimes,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. “We just need to get back and evaluate it and see who’s stepping up and who’s competing and who’s not.”
Decimated by injuries, particularly to their defense and goaltending, the Islanders’ roster featured a number of call-ups from Bridgeport of the AHL. That included Joey MacDonald, who made his first start in net for New York and only the 16th appearance of his NHL career. MacDonald put up a 3-7-2 record last season, split between Detroit and Boston.
MacDonald looked sharp early, but it didn’t take long for the Flyers to solve him after Josef Vasicek and Matthew Spiller were whistled for penalties 44 seconds apart midway through the first period. Prospal scored just eight seconds into the 5-on-3 advantage, taking a cross-crease pass from Briere and stuffing the puck past MacDonald at 12:01 for his 32nd goal of the season.
“Their defenseman never put his stick in the passing lane,” Prospal said. “I basically had a wide-open net just to shoot at.”
Coburn, a young defenseman acquired by the Flyers at last year’s trade deadline, continued a solid first full season with the team by netting his ninth goal on a power play 9:36 into the second. Defense partner Jaroslav Modry found Coburn for a shot from just above the faceoff dot in the right circle that gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead after two periods.
“I’ve always been working on it,” said Coburn of his developed shooting skills. “It’s just something I do after practice with other defensemen or coaches.”
Briere added his 29th at 5:34 of the third. Kimmo Timonen started the play from the point by passing to Mike Richards in the right circle, and Richards sent a quick pass to the left circle that Briere banked in off MacDonald as he scrambled in vain to get back across the net. Briere’s goal made the Flyers 3-for-5 on the power play for the night.
“They got the opportunity, we get into penalty trouble, and they just kept throwing pucks at the net and they seemed to get that guy backdoor every time,” MacDonald said. “That pass kept getting through and it’s a tough play to make, when you have to go from one side to the other and do the one-time on the backdoor.”
Hartnell would earn his 23rd of the season at 7:59 by driving to the net and slamming home a pass from Prospal just before crashing into the cage and dislodging it from the post.
Satan capped the scoring and ended an 11-game goal drought with his 15th of the season. The Islanders converted half of a double-minor assessed to Jim Dowd, but finished just 1-for-7 with the man advantage.
Biron came up strong in improving to 6-0 against the Islanders this season, particularly in the second period when the Flyers were outshot 15-4 with the outcome still in question. In the third, fans began chanting: “Marty! Marty! Marty!”
“You want to stand there and keep it going,” said Biron, smiling. “It’s like, bring on more shots to give them more to cheer about.”
MacDonald made 22 saves and his teammates and coaches found little fault with the pucks he was unable to stop, instead focusing on the short-handed situations that set up the goals.
“I thought Joey played quite well,” Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. “The goals he let up, I’m not sure too how many goaltenders can get cross-crease passes to wide-open guys. We just missed our assignments, especially on the penalty-killing situations.”
Blackhawks 4, Blues 3 (OT) | Video
Chicago refuses to exit the Western Conference playoff race quietly, and after Patrick Kane scored 1:09 into overtime Sunday the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes remained very much alive.
Kane picked up the rebound of a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot and tucked it past St. Louis goaltender Hannu Toivonen for his 18th of the season, sending the United Center crowd into a frenzy. Chicago forced overtime when James Wisniewski scored with 55 seconds left in regulation.
''They know what it takes to win, to battle,'' Chicago coach Denis Savard said of Kane, a leading candidate for rookie of the year, and Wisniewski, who scored his first goal in 18 games. ''Whether we get there (the playoffs) of not, they'll prove a lot of people wrong.''
''I thought the shot was going wide, and it was right there,'' said Kane, who leads all rookies with 65 points. ''It was good to jam it in.''
The Blackhawks have 80 points with six games remaining, just four behind eighth-place Colorado. However, they still sit 11th in the West, with Nashville and Edmonton also to climb over in order to reach a playoff berth.
The Blues stopped thinking playoffs long ago, but they were poised to deal the Blackhawks a damaging loss after Keith Tkachuk beat Nikolai Khabibulin on a breakaway with 1:18 remaining for a 3-2 lead. Wisniewski responded just 23 seconds later by scoring from the top of the slot for his first goal in 18 games.
''I don't think I've scored a bigger goal,'' he said.
After a scoreless first period, the Blues jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 7:55 of the second on a goal by Lee Stempniak. The Blackhawks tied it up with 2:26 left in the period when Adam Burish scored.
Dustin Byfuglien put Chicago ahead for the first time with 10:50 to play in the third, taking a pass from Kane and snapping a shot past Toivonen for his 18th goal, but Dwayne King evened the score 2:09 later when a drive by David Backes deflected in off his skate. That set up the frantic finish at the end of regulation and start of overtime.
Kane tied a Blackhawks rookie record with his 47th assist, matching the mark set by Savard in 1980-81 and equaled by Steve Larmer two years later.
The Blues, meanwhile, head home after going 1-7-1 on a season-long, nine-game road trip. Their reward is a date with the League’s top team, Detroit, on Tuesday.
''We've competed in every game with the exception of one,'' Blues coach Andy Murray said about the trip. ''Our team competes hard on a nightly basis. What we need to do is find a way to turn these losses into wins.''
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.