The Islanders took a 4-3 lead into the third-period, but could not hang on, as they fell 6-4 to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.
“It felt like we were sitting back a little bit,” Andrew MacDonald said. “We weren’t executing plays in the defensive zone and they got us scrambling a bit. We missed some coverages and they have a pretty potent lineup over there and they managed to score.”
Michael Raffl scored the game-winner at 15:45 of the third period, burying a fortunate bounce off an Islanders shin pad past Kevin Poulin. Jakub Voracek had tied the score eight-and-a-half minutes earlier and Matt Read iced the game with an empty netter.
“We made some mistakes,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “I thought we got away from our physicality in the third. The forecheck that we were sustaining early and [physical play] got away from us. We had a few fly-bys when we needed to make a push.”
The Islanders were held to two shots in the third period, after posting 27 in the first 40 minutes.
“We got away from the way we were playing in the first two periods,” Tavares said. “We played on our heels and they are going to come at you. They have a lot of skill and it’s a tough place to play in. We have to play a full 60 minutes.”
The loss was a bitter end to an otherwise sweet road trip for the Islanders, who finished the six-game swing with a 4-2-0 record. While the Islanders won four games away from Nassau Coliseum, none of those wins were against Metropolitan division opponents and Saturday’s loss was their third this season against the Flyers. They’ll get a chance for revenge Monday afternoon, as the teams complete the home-and-home series on Long Island.
“The only good thing here is we have them again in a couple of days in our own barn,” MacDonald said.
The Islanders opened up a 2-0 lead midway through the first period. First Kyle Okposo forced a turnover behind the Flyers net and dished the puck to Thomas Vanek at the side of the net. Vanek sent a goal-line feed to Tavares who buried his 22nd of the season at 7:43. Four minutes later, Frans Nielsen threaded a pass to Clutterbuck on a shorthanded rush, and Cluttebuck connected for his third shorthanded goal of the season.
Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros scored twice in the back half of the first period to notch the game at two. Meszaros’ first goal came on a sharp-angled shot that fooled Poulin, but on his second, he faked a slap shot, skated in and picked the corner on Isles goalie.
The Flyers took the lead 3:45 into the second period, as Adam Hall tipped a Mark Streit point shot through traffic and past Poulin. Tavares found the back of the net again just over four minutes later, but the goal was called back due to goaltender interference.
The Islanders successfully tied the game three minutes after the disallowed goal, as Nelson deflected a Calvin de Haan shot past Mason. Strait ended Mason’s night with his third goal of the season 2:55 after Nelson’s tying goal, giving the Isles the lead.
Ray Emery made five saves in relief of Mason and picked up the win. Poulin finished the night with 26 saves.
The Islanders and Flyers meet again Monday afternoon at Nassau Coliseum. Puck drop is at 1:00 p.m.