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Isles end drought in Philly with 4-1 win

by Adam Kimelman
PHILADELPHIA -- The way things are going, the New York Islanders might want to keep their dads around a bit longer.

John Tavares extended his career-best scoring streak to 11 games with a pair of assists and Evgeni Nabokov made 40 saves as the Islanders beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Thursday night.

The victory ended a 13-game losing streak by the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center, where they hadn't won since April 7, 2007. It was just the third win for the Islanders in their last 29 meetings with the Flyers.

It's also the second straight win for the Isles with their dads in the house. They started the team's annual Father and Son trip Tuesday in Washington with a 3-0 victory.

"We've got to bring them more often," Tavares said. "Got to get on some of the staff for that."

What the dads saw was a second straight strong effort on the road against a team currently in playoff position.

"We needed it," said Isles captain Mark Streit, who scored a third-period power-play goal. "We're desperate. We need points. It was a big road trip for us -- we had our dads on the trip, which makes it even more special. Washington is a really good team and Philly as well. Two big wins."

A big part of those wins has been Nabokov, who has stopped 57 of the last 58 shots he's faced. He was 10:48 from his second straight shutout when Matt Read scored the Flyers' lone goal at 10:48 of the third period. That goal snapped Nabokov's shutout streak at 133:50, a span that dates to last Saturday's 4-2 win against Buffalo.

The win was the 302nd of Nabokov's career, moving him into a tie for 24th all-time with Hall of Famer Turk Broda.

"Nabby was unbelievable, stood on his head," Streit said. "He made some key saves for us and that's what you need in order to win games -- especially this game. We haven't won here in a long time. It's great for our confidence. When you have a goalie back there like Nabby, it's way easier to play in front of him."

The Flyers' goalie wasn't bad, either. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 23 of 26 shots, but a half-dozen of them were breakaways and odd-man rushes.

"If it wasn't for Bob tonight, this game wasn’t going to be close," center Claude Giroux said after the second-year goaltender lost for the first time in eight career decisions against the Islanders.

The Islanders nearly scored the game's first goal 6:44 in when Tavares' wraparound attempt bounced off Bobrovsky's pads and went into the slot. Matt Moulson drove to the net and knocked in the rebound, but video review showed he kicked it in and the goal was waved off.

Just 28 seconds into the second period, Moulson scored one that counted. Tavares carried the puck around Kimmo Timonen and deep into the Philadelphia zone. He threw a backhand pass into the slot that went through traffic to a wide-open Moulson, who beat Bobrovsky with a wrist shot for his 22nd of the season.

Tavares matched Boston's David Krejci for the longest point-scoring streak in the NHL this season, and it's the longest by an Islander since Mark Parrish had points in 12 straight games in the 2001-02 season.

The two assists give Tavares six goals and 13 assists during his streak.

"He's played extremely well for us," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of Tavares, the first player picked in the 2009 NHL Draft. "He's playing with a lot of confidence. We talked about him over the last month and a half, and he's stronger around the puck, he's making plays. But his will to compete, his will to want to help this team strive to get to the playoffs, he's a leader for our team and I think it's carrying over to some of our other guys right now."

Josh Bailey made it 2-0 at 12:58 with his fourth goal of the season. Just 12 seconds after the Flyers went on the power play, Matt Martin poked the puck away from Timonen at the point, and Bailey picked up the loose puck on the fly. He broke in alone on Bobrovsky and lifted a backhander under the crossbar to snap a 16-game goal drought.

Flyers forward Danny Briere said his team may have allowed more breakaways Thursday than it had all season.

"We were a little too casual and whenever one of our point men were under stress, there was nobody there to back them up," he said. "Just in the second alone, I think we gave away four breakaways or something ridiculous like that. I don't know if we have given up as many breakaways before in the whole season as in this game. It's something we will have to talk about and resolve as well."

After Tavares teed up Streit's blast from the right circle to make it 3-0 at 7:07 of the third, the Flyers scored their lone goal when Read drove to the net and tipped Couturier's shot from the right circle over Nabokov's glove. The assist extended Couturier's point-scoring streak to six games, but his goal-scoring streak ended at five.

That was all the Flyers could manage, however, despite outshooting the Islanders 16-6 in the third period.

It was troubling effort for a Flyers team that believed it had played one of its best games of the season in Tuesday's 5-1 home win against the Minnesota Wild.

"I think we came out flat," Briere said. "It was a tough one to get out of the gate. Even though it was 0-0 coming out of the first, they built some momentum and they bottled us up in our own zone. It was an uphill battle event though the score was 0-0."

Timonen, however, had a much more succinct explanation for the loss.

"We [stunk] today, pretty much," he said. "They were better in every area today. They skated better, they wanted it more. It's one of those games you don't want to happen, but it happens.

"We have to refocus and move on."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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