DOMINANT FIRST PERIOD NOT ENOUGH
By Kerry Gwydir
Patrick Sharp's goal, his second of the game, at 2:36 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Islanders in Philadelphia tonight. The Flyers came back after the Islanders took a 2-0 lead in a first period that they dominated from start to finish.
"We failed to put them away when we had them," said Islanders coach Steve Stirling. "We have to do a much better job at that."
The Islanders' best chance to tie the game late in the third was when they had a power play with five minutes remaining. With a screen in front, defenseman Chris Campoli floated a wrister from inside the blue line that hit the goal post. The Flyers were so strong defensively in the final three minutes that Rick DiPietro was unable to get off the ice for an extra attacker until there were only 25 seconds remaining in the game.
"A very tough loss," said Jason Blake. "We didn't close out the game when we had a chance and we didn't get the big goal when we needed it late."
The Islanders were sharp early. Midway through the first period, the Isles had accumulated a 15-2 shots advantage and nearly converted on the first power play of the night. This time, it was Hunter, who unleashed a blast inside the left faceoff dot that the Flyers goaltender blocked away. However, Nittymaki had to be quick to recover as the rebound hit a skate in front and rolled behind him before being frozen in the crease.
Nilsson continued to fly for the visitors and keep the Flyers defense on their heels. An end-to-end rush 13 minutes in resulted in a great backhand try that Nittymaki stopped and forced Philly's Mike Rathje to take a penalty on Nilsson.
As that power play commenced, the Isles went on a 5-on-3 for 1:04 with Brian Savage and Rathje in the box. And it was Miro Satan netting his 9th of the year at the 14:39 mark as he slammed home an across-the-ice feed from Alexei Yashin. With less than a minute remaining on the 5-on-4 powerplay, Mike York tallied his 2nd of the season at the 15:16 mark with a blast from the left point. Nilsson and Hunter garnered the assist on the play as Parrish set up shop in front for the screen. At this point, the Isles owned a 19-2 shots advantage.
Immediately off the ensuing faceoff, the Flyers were looking for some energy. And it was Philly rookie Mike Richards looking to scrap with Arron Asham at center ice. The Flyers' center was game, but was on the short end of four heavy rights from Asham, who floored the Philly center at the end of the bout.
The Flyers came out inspired in the second and got on the board at the 3:25 mark when Patrick Sharp ripped a one-timer from the right point past Rick DiPietro's catch glove. Philly's Jeff Carter set the screen in front to obscure DiPietro's vision on the play.
With 3:07 left in the period, the hosts tied the game when Alexei Zhitnik inadvertently knocked the puck into his own net after DiPietro had made a great poke-check off a break-in by R.J. Umberger. Carter got credit for the goal as he and Zhitnik battled on the way to the front of the Islander net and the puck hit off Zhitnik's leg and into the net.
Petteri Nokelainen and Tomi Pettinen were the Islanders' scratches...
(79) Alexei Yashin-(12) Oleg Kvasha-(81) Miroslav Satan
(21) Robert Nilsson-(16) Mike York-(37) Mark Parrish
(55) Jason Blake-(17) Shawn Bates-(7) Trent Hunter
(49) Eric Godard-(45) Arron Asham-(11) Mattias Weinhandl
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(24) Radek Martinek
(25) Brad Lukowich-(44) Janne Niinimaa
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(39) Rick DiPietro
(30) Garth Snow
(12) Simon Gagne-(21) Peter Forsberg-(22) Mike Knuble
(87) Donald Brashear-(26) Michal Handzus-(19) Branko Radivojevic
(20) RJ Umberger-(18) Mike Richards-(11) Jon Sim
(49) Brian Savage-(17) Jeff Carter-(9) Patrick Sharp
(2) Derian Hatcher-(5) Kim Johnsson
(44) Joni Pitkanen-(3) Mike Rathje
(28) Dennis Sseidenberg-(6) Chris Therien
(30) Antero Nittymaki
(42) Robert Esche