The Islanders received goals from four different players and multi-point efforts from Colin McDonald, Matt Moulson, Brad Boyes and John Tavares en route to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday at Nassau Coliseum. The win is the Islanders fourth straight at home and their seventh in the last nine games (7-1-1). At 20-16-4 (44 points), the Islanders move ahead of the New York Rangers into a tie with the sixth-place Ottawa Senators.
Evgeni Nabokov turned aside 26-of-27 shots for his 19th win, one shy of the league lead. Since March 24, he has stopped 146-of-158 shots (.924 save percentage), going 6-1-1 with a shutout.
“We played like we wanted it more - I think that's why we got the two points,” Nabokov said. “Everything is positive right now, but you can't get carried away because you know that it's such a fight for the playoffs with eight games left. You can find yourself very quickly the other way. You just want to keep the focus and intensity at the same level, win or lose.
Jakub Voracek’s 17th goal of the season gave Philadelphia a 1-0 first period lead. Andrew MacDonald was backchecking hard on Voracek’s breakaway and dove to break up the play. The Islanders defenseman slid into Evgeni Nabokov as he absorbed the puck, but the collision ultimately caused the puck to cross the line just before the goalpost was knocked off its moorings. Claude Giroux and Kimmo Timonen got the assists on the play.
After Voracek’s goal, the Islanders shut the door for the next 53 minutes.
Moulson tied the contest later in the first with his 13th tally of the season off a two-on-two attack with Boyes. The right wing maneuvered in front of a Flyers defenseman before setting up Moulson in the slot. Moulson got just enough of a lane around his defender to find the back of the net at 15:36.
The left wing, who missed his first game as an Islander Saturday with flu-like symptoms, breaking a streak of 284 consecutive games, said he felt rejuvenated in his return to the lineup.
“It was definitely more stressful watching at home the last game,” Moulson said. “It was good to be back on the bench and in the room with the guys. I haven't watched too many Islanders games on TV at home since I got here so it's great to be a part of it.”
Michael Grabner put the Islanders in front, where they would remain for the rest of the night, at 17:42 of the second period. Colin McDonald fed him a pass from the right wing boards during a transition rush and Grabner found twine for his 13th marker of the 2012-13 campaign.
The Islanders maintained their one-goal lead, surviving several Flyers scoring chances through the third period. With the visiting team applying pressure, Moulson and Tavares broke through the neutral zone on a two-on-one attack. Moulson’s pass to Tavares through a defender was stopped, leaving Moulson and Philadelphia’s Erik Gustafsson chasing for the loose puck in front. Gustafsson ended up inadvertently pushing the puck across the goal line at 18:23, giving the Islanders a 3-1 advantage.
While Moulson never connected with the rebound, his hustle certainly caused it to go into the net.
“I just tried to get the rebound,” Moulson said. “I didn't touch it. I kind of pushed Gustafsson toward the net and luckily it went off him and in.”
Casey Cizikas added an empty-netter 38 seconds later to make the score 4-1. Mason returned for a non-eventful 1:09 before the final horn.
As the game neared its conclusion, the crowd volume at the Coliseum picked up, a factor that wasn’t lost on Tavares. In the four-game home winning streak, the Islanders have outscored opponents 16-5.
“They're passionate,” Tavares said of the Nassau Coliseum faithful. “You can see it in the building. When we started to generate some momentum throughout the game, and especially in the third period they got loud. They pushed us and created a great atmosphere. We want to make our building a tough place to play in and they're part of that. They make it difficult as much as we do.”
The Islanders look to transition their positive momentum back to the road, where they are 11-5-2 this season. They play at the Boston Bruins Thursday, with puck drop at TD Garden slated for 7:00 p.m.
Notes: The Islanders improve to 4-0-1 in the month of April, not having lost in regulation since March 30 at Pittsburgh … The Islanders out-shot the Flyers 32-27 … John Tavares led all players with five shots and 70% in the faceoff circle (7-for-10) … Matt Martin and Brayden Schenn engaged in a fight at 6:01 of the first period … The Islanders went 0-for-1 on the power play, while Philadelphia went 0-for-2 … The Islanders are perfect on the penalty kill in their last six games (11-for-11) and have shut down the opposition’s power play in 9-of-10 games … Matt Martin led the team with five hits … The Islanders are four points ahead of ninth-place New Jersey in the Eastern Conference standings … The Islanders have eight games remaining, while the Devils have nine.
New York Islanders
60 Kevin Poulin
19 Scott Hartnell - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek
24 Matt Read - 10 Brayden Schenn - 17 Wayne simmonds
12 Simon Gagne - 26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 9 Mike Knuble
37 Jay Rosehill - 14 Sean Couturier - 18 Adam Hall
44 Kimmo Timonen - 27 Bruno Gervais
38 Oliver Lauridsen - 22 Luke Schenn
23 Kent Huskins - 29 Erik Gustafsson
35 Steve Mason
30 Ilya Bryzgalov