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game recap

Loss to Flyers drops Islanders to wild card

New York will play Florida in Eastern Conference First Round

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

NEW YORK -- It took all 82 games for the New York Islanders to find out who they would face in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Now they know.

With a 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in their regular-season finale at Barclays Center on Sunday, the Islanders (45-27-10) will face the Florida Panthers as the first wild card from the Eastern Conference.

Playing their fifth game in seven nights, the Islanders opted to sit several key players, including captain John Tavares. Thomas Greiss started in goal but was relieved by Christopher Gibson to start the second period. Nikolay Kulemin and Matt Martin had first-period goals.

The Islanders could have passed the New York Rangers and finished third in the Metropolitan Division with a win, which would have meant a first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Video: PHI@NYI: Kulemin splits defense to bury opening goal

Islanders coach Jack Capuano insisted the playoff scenarios didn't play a role in his lineup decisions. In addition to Tavares, the Islanders scratched forwards Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Casey Cizikas, and defensemen Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk.

"We have to do what's best for us," Capuano said. "Nothing would have changed with our hockey club. We have some guys that are dinged up, and we have to do what's best for our team. That wouldn't have changed one thought process of our decision making as a staff. Not at all."

Shayne Gostisbehere, Evgeny Medvedev, Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton and R.J. Umberger scored for Philadelphia (41-27-14), which clinched a playoff berth Saturday and will face the Washington Capitals in the first round as the second wild card from the East.

Video: PHI@NYI: Martin finishes off a great feed from Pulock

Michal Neuvirth made 14 saves in his first start since March 16.

"It was nice to get him in," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "He's been ready to go for the last few days, so to be able to get him into the net and get a good 60 minutes of game action I think is as important as he prepares for next week as well."

Kulemin opened the scoring 5:58 into the game when he took a pass from Calvin de Haan, made a nifty move around Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning and slid a backhand shot between Neuvirth's skates. Martin made it 2-0 at 9:19 when he poked a feed from Ryan Pulock past Neuvirth.

Video: PHI@NYI: Medvedev nets one-timer on the power play

"We're playoff-bound and we've got some guys that are banged up, some important pieces that you don't want to risk an injury in a game like this," Martin said. "I think every team in the League does it. [The Flyers] rested guys tonight also."

Did Martin have a preference as to which team he'd rather face in the playoffs?

"Not really," he said. "I mean, you don't have to beat everyone, but you've got to be playing strong hockey to beat anyone in this League. It really, I don't think, matters. I know Pittsburgh, we had an exciting series against them a few years back, one that I thought we almost deserved to win. That would have been a good one.

"But every year, you meet someone new in the playoffs and you kind of gain a new rival. I'm excited. It's going to be a good challenge for us. There's no easy game, though. They're a very good hockey team. We need to be ready."

Video: PHI@NYI: Raffl's one-timer gives Flyers the lead

Gostisbehere cut the Islanders' lead in half with a power-play goal 2:04 later. Shortly after minor-league call-up Ross Johnston was whistled for high sticking, Gostisbehere took a pass from Jakub Voracek and took a wrist shot from the point that found its way through a crowd in front and past Greiss to make it 2-1.

Philadelphia capitalized on a two-man advantage in the final minute of the first period to tie the game. With Johnston and Bracken Kearns in the box, Medvedev one-timed Matt Read's feed past Greiss to make it 2-2 with 7.1 seconds remaining.

Greiss made seven saves.

Video: PHI@NYI: Gostisbehere buries wrister from the point

The Flyers grabbed the lead for the first time when Raffl scored 6:38 into the second period. He skated into the slot and one-timed a pass from Laughton past Gibson to make it 3-2.

"It's basically for nothing, so I think it was kind of a sloppy game at both ends," Raffl said. "It is what it is. You've got to get through that one."

Laughton made it 4-2 at 5:50 of the third period when he beat Gibson with a snap shot from the left circle. Umberger's power-play goal with 8:50 remaining put the game out of reach. He played for the first time since Feb. 20.

Video: PHI@NYI: Laughton scores fourth unanswered goal

Gibson made 15 saves.

"I think it's a slippery slope when you try to choose opponents and routes and stuff like that; you start looking ahead," Islanders right wing Cal Clutterbuck said. "I think it's important to just kind of stay in the today, in the moment and do what's best for the team. I think the decision was made that was best for us today. We've got Florida and [Monday] morning we'll start thinking about that."

Philadelphia scratched forwards Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier, defenseman Mark Streit and goalie Steve Mason.

Video: Flyers score five unanswered in win over Isles

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