Defensive Leaders Shine as Flyers Dismantle the Islanders
If it’s one team the Flyers have had continued success against lately it’s the New York Islanders.
That success continued tonight as the Flyers (6-4-1) took down the Islanders (4-5-2) 6-1 at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers lineup contained the same personnel as it did last night against the Penguins with only one minor adjustment. On the third line, Claude Giroux was centering Darroll Powe on the left wing and Jeff Carter on the right. Nikolai Zherdev remained the healthy scratch while Matt Walker (hip), Ian Laperriere (post concussion symptoms, IR), and Michael Leighton (back, LTIR) remained sidelined due to injury.
Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen got things started off early for the Flyers. A flurry of shots on Isles net minder Rick DiPietro led him to stumble along the right side of the net. The puck fluttered out to Timonen on the left side of the slot and he took the shot into the empty net, putting the Flyers up 1-0 early.
Halfway into the period the Flyers were able to put one full minute of pressure on the Islanders in their zone. That led to a cross-checking penalty on Isles forward Jon Sim. The Flyers PP, however, was quickly nullified by a Scott Hartnell goaltender interference penalty. Danny Briere was soon sent to the sin bin himself on a tripping penalty. The Flyers PK unit held its own however, and along with the solid goaltending of Sergei Bobrovsky was able to keep the Islanders off the score board. Bobrovsky would end up with 30 saves on 31 shots for the night.
“He's [Bobrovsky] pretty relaxed back there and understands; kinda lets the game come to him a little bit, Pronger told the media after the game. “Obviously in the third (there were) a lot of power plays on both sides and he came up with a number of good stops to keep it 6-1.”
“He's been sharp,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of the Russian goaltender. “I've said that from day one. Since I've seen him he's had a lot of really good days for us. I thought he played terrific last night and I wanted to get him back in there based on that. He looked really good. Seeing him in a back to back situation, and I thought he responded really well."
With approximately three minutes remaining in the first period, Jeff Carter shot a wrister from the left side 37’ out, beating DiPietro through the five hole and putting the Flyers up 2-0. Claude Giroux was credited with an assist.
DiPietro was looked at by a trainer on the ice in the waning seconds of the first period but he remained in net.
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The Islanders started off the second period by putting pressure on the Flyers but Bobrovsky continued to stay strong.
Roughly three minutes into the period Darrol Powe worked the puck up along the left side boards. He passed the puck up to Claude Giroux who centered to Carter. Carter beat DiPietro for a second time with a backhand shot through the five hole. It extended the Flyers lead to 3.
30 seconds later, Isles defenseman James Wisniewski was sent to the box on a roughing penalty. On the PP, Ville Leino passed from the right side boards to Chris Pronger who was waiting at the point. Pronger passed to Timonen on the left side, who in turn returned the pass. Pronger took the one-timer from Timonen and beat DiPietro, making it 4-0 Flyers on the PPG.
At 4:41 into the second period, Flyers agitator Dan Carcillo raised the energy level in the Wells Fargo Center even higher when he dropped gloves with Zenon Konopka. Konopka took the advantage in the first half of this lengthy battle, but “Carbomb” swiftly took over the fight, landing several punches and knocking Konopka’s helmet off of his head.
“I knew something was going to happen, so I just went in there and hit him,” Carcillo explained.
Kimmo Timonen was called to the sin bin several seconds later on an elbowing penalty. Once again, the Flyers PK continued to perform phenomenally, with Andreas Nodl and Jeff Carter both getting chances. The fact that they are a threat on the PK is very similar to the way this team performed on the PK during the 2008-09 season.
At 7:45 into the period, Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros was sent into the boards by Islanders forward Trent Hunter. Meszaros fell to the ice but was later able to make it back to the bench. He was seen later on the bench clearly wincing in pain.
A melee ensued along the boards where the hit took place. Even Isles net minder Rick DiPietro got involved. Altogether, Hunter received a five minute boarding major penalty and a ten minute game misconduct. DiPietro received a two minute penalty for leaving the crease.
Meszaros later left for the locker room. He would not return and has been listed as having an upper body injury.
While on the 5 on 3, Chris Pronger was called for hooking Frans Nielson on a breakaway. Nielson was given a penalty shot which he converted on with a backhand shot over Bobrovsky’s glove side. It put the Isles on the board, 4-1. It would be their only goal of the night.
That minimal amount of momentum acquired by the Islanders was soon thrust in the Flyers’ direction again once the 5 on 3 ensued. Timonen passed cross-ice along the blue line to Pronger. Pronger took the shot on a one-timer and beat DiPietro for the second time, extending the Flyers lead to 5-1.
Coming into tonight’s game, the Flyers defense had 0 goals in 10 games and was the last NHL team to have a defenseman score. They would score 3 on the night.
Andreas Nodl later netted his third goal as a Flyer and his second of the season. Jeff Carter took the puck up the left side boards to JVR after a nice defensive play by Sean O’Donnell. JVR continued the puck up the boards and made the cross-ice pass to Nodl who beat DiPietro with a wrister.
Unfortunately for Nodl, his night would end soon after that. During the second intermission it was revealed that he had received an upper body injury himself, possibly during a shorthanded opportunity he had earlier in the period. During a breakaway he was tripped up and slid into the boards. Initially he seemed alright but a later diagnosis prevented him from returning to the bench for the third period.
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The first half of the third period was almost eerily quiet. The fans at the Wells Fargo Center could smell victory and the Islanders had seemingly admitted defeat on the ice.
Dan Carcillo took a cross checking penalty at 9:10 into the period which the Flyers once again stopped on the PK. The Flyers are 16/19 (.842%) on the PK since last Saturday.
Three minutes later, Konopka and Carcillo once again locked horns. When they were led to their respective penalty boxes, Carcillo allegedly said something to Konopka. Konopka completely lost his wits, yelling loudly at Carcillo and also at Flyers enforcer Jody Shelley. He was escorted into the locker room after receiving a ten minute game misconduct and a two minute penalty for roughing.
At 16:23 into the final period, Isles forward Trevor Gilles got into a scrum in front of the Flyers net. He would receive three separate roughing minor penalties (two minutes apiece for a total of six minutes) as well as a game misconduct.
The Islanders had completely derailed.
To add insult to injury, the Islanders received a bench minor three minutes later for unsportsmanlike conduct.
With only one minute left to go in the game, one final melee ensued in front of the Islanders’ net off of a faceoff. This scrum involved (among others) Danny Briere, Dan Carcillo, Frans Nielson, and Rick DiPietro. Nielson and Briere each got game misconducts. Briere also received a five minute penalty for cross checking. Carcillo received a ten minute misconduct. DiPietro received yet another two minute penalty for leaving the crease in an attempt to fight Dan Carcillo. It was an entertaining end to a very successful night for the Flyers.
“Never,” Carcillo said when asked if he ever fought a goaltender before. “It would have been nice to fight him though.” When asked if he knew that DiPietro was a big guy Carcillo said, “He is? I'm sure I'd be able to handle myself.”
“We came out tonight the right way I thought, Laviolette told the media.” “Right off the bat we were throwing pucks at the net in the offensive zone. We got some good results tonight from that attack.”
The Flyers take on the Carolina Hurricanes Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
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Stars of the Game:
1. Kimmo Timonen
2. Chris Pronger
3. Jeff Carter