SNOW FALLS IN THIRD
By Francis Rizzo III
The Islanders built a 3-1 lead Tuesday, on goals by Jason Blake, Mark Parrish and Miroslav Satan, but lost 4-3 to the Flyers. Making a second-straight start Garth Snow stopped 30 shots, but couldn't get the win as Philadelphia scored three unanswered goals to finish the game.
Unlike Saturday's match-up in Philadelphia, which didn't wait for the fans to sit down before heating up, tonight's game started off at a more leisurely pace, with both teams combining for just two shots after eight minutes. A penalty to Arron Asham threatened to change that, but the Islanders killed off the two minutes without allowing a shot on goal.
Thanks to a well-deflected shot by Janne Niinimaa, the Islanders got on the board 12 minutes into the game. Brad Lukowich slid the puck along the blueline, connecting with Niinimaa, who fired the puck on goal. Standing in the face-off circle to Robert Esche's right, Satan called for the puck, and timed the tip perfectly to bounce it over Esche's glove and into the net for a 1-0 lead. The goal broke a three-game point slump for the winger.
Taking advantage of another Islanders penalty, this time to Alexei Zhitnik, the Flyers tallied several shots on net, but were denied by Snow, who stopped a number of chances on his doorstep. Handed a powerplay of their own though, the Islanders would push their lead to two goals. Drawing a pair of defenders behind the Flyers' goal, Alexei Yashin threaded a pass through the crease to Blake, who picked up his fourth goal in two games, firing a wrister past Esche on the glove side.
A high-sticking penalty to Sean Bergenheim near the start of the second period helped the Flyers further build their lead in shots, but once again, Snow was equal to the man-up chances. While the Islanders were strong in their own end, they had trouble getting pressure in the Flyers' zone, as they were held without a shot for almost half the period.
Shortly after Wyatt Smith broke the shot drought for the Islanders though, the Flyers beat their own scoring problems. Picking up the puck behind the Islanders' net, Sami Kapanen tucked a pass through his legs to Patrick Sharp, who beared down on goal and put a shot off Snow's leg pads, freezing the netminder to the left post. Getting the rebound, Sharp cut across the crease and deposited his fourth goal of the season at 9:51.
Back on the powerplay thanks to a hooking penalty by Michael Handzus, the Islanders put another puck past Robert Esche, this time thanks to Mark Parrish's work in front of the Flyers' crease. Taking the puck off the boards, Brent Sopel drifted along the blueline and snapped a shot on net that Parrish redirected past the Philly netminder.
The two-goal lead didn't last long, as another powerplay resulted in another goal. Michael Handzus fed high-scoring Simon Gagne behind the Isles' net, who converted the pass quickly to Joni Pitkanen out in front. Getting just enough stick on it to redirected it at Snow, the defenseman tucked a goal just inside the left post.
With just under two minutes left in the second period, and a two-minute Islanders powerplay on the ice, a turnover in the Flyers' zone led to a 2-on-1 breakaway for Philadelphia. Skating back to help, Sopel clipped Kapanen on the nose with his stick, getting whistled for a four-minute double minor that evened up the manpower. With four skaters aside, the Flyers pulled even, as Kim Johnsson put a long-range shot on Snow, who bobbled the puck in the crease. Mike Knuble dug out the rebound, and Gagne tucked it into the open net.
Starting out the third period with over two minutes of powerplay time, a 27-15 advantage in shots on goal and a clean slate on the scoreboard, the Flyers were in good shape to turn the game around for themselves. But after fizzling with the man-advantage, some hard work by Mattias Weinhandl and some good chances around the Flyers' zone brought the volume up in the Coliseum.
The momentum wouldn't do the home team much good though, as the Flyers powered their way to their first lead of the game with just under eight minutes remaining. Battling with Asham and Zhitnik in the corner of the Islanders' zone, Jon Sim emerged with the puck and drove to the net. Instead of taking the shot, he saw Gagne moving to the far post, and fed him for his second goal of the game.
The end of the game was delayed for several minutes as an apparent last-second scoring chance by the Islanders was ruled a non-goal on video review.
OFF THE ICE: Center Wyatt Smith and left wing Sean Bergenheim were called-up from AHL Bridgeport to fill out the Islanders' lineup... For the Islanders, Shawn Bates (hamstring), Oleg Kvasha (ankle), Petteri Nokelainen (knee) and Tomi Pettinen (healthy) were scratched, while the Flyers sat Keith Primeau (concussion), Peter Forsberg (groin), Brian Savage (knee), Dennis Seidenberg (wrist) and Turner Stevenson (hip)... Mark Parrish recorded his 150th goal in the NHL.
An assist is credited to the Sportswriting class at Hofstra University for tonight's "Game On!"
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Janne Niinimaa on losing a two-goal lead:
"When we have opponents down, we have to finish them. Sometimes we get lazy and that leads to penalties."
Brent Sopel on special teams:
"The second period troubles takes us back to what we did in the beginning of the year. Penalties disrupt our flow. When we have all four lines out there, we roll."
On the team's recent struggles at home:
"We need to start defending our building. This needs to be a tough place for (opposing teams) to play."
On the last second goal that was waved off:
"We need to create our own breaks. We shouldn't have been in that position."
Garth Snow on the turning point of the game:
"When they turned it up, we didn't match it. It seemed we were getting beat to the puck. The second period lost the game for us. Bad breaks don't matter. We should have won."
(45) Arron Asham-(79) Alexei Yashin-(55) Jason Blake
(81) Miroslav Satan-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(37) Mark Parrish-(28) Wyatt Smith-(11) Mattias Weinhandl
(10) Sean Bergenheim-(21) Robert Nilsson-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(25) Brad Lukowich-(44) Janne Niinimaa
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(30) Garth Snow
(39) Rick DiPietro
(12) Simon Gagne-(26) Michael Handzus-(22) Mike Knuble
(87) Donald Brashear-(18) Mike Richards-(24) Sami Kapanen
(14) Ryan Ready-(9) Patrick Sharp-(19) Branko Radivojevic
(17) Jeff Carter-(20) R.J. Umberger-(11) Jon Sim
(37) Eric Desjardins-(2) Derian Hatcher
(5) Kim Johnsson-(6) Chris Therien
(44) Joni Pitkanen-(3) Mike Rathje
(42) Robert Esche
(30) Antero Nittymaki