Halak and Flyers goaltender Steve Mason (46 saves) stopped a combined 67-of-67 shots through 65 minutes, so it was only fitting that a goaltender’s duel ended in a shootout on Hempstead Turnpike.
“We deserved to win that game,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “I thought we played extremely well and our goalie made some big saves when he had to. Obviously Mason was on his game tonight.”
While Mason stymied the Islanders in regulation, he was beat twice in the skills competition. Kyle Okposo hit the post before Nielsen and John Tavares lit the lamp. At the other end, Halak stood tall, even on his back, robbing Flyers captain Claude Giroux with a desperation arm save on the goal line.
“Fortunately for me, he didn’t lift the puck and he tried to slide it on the ice,” Halak said. “I was able to get my arm there and it hit my glove. I’ll take it.”
While Mason saw an overwhelmingly high quantity of shots, Halak almost exclusively faced high-quality chances. Halak bailed out the Islanders on a first-period power play, stopping Sean Couturier on shorthanded breakaway and came up big again in the second, robbing Pierre-Edouard Bellemore with the glove on a one-timer in close.
Offensively, the Islanders dictated the pace for nearly the entire contest, conceding spot chances, but never ceding control of the game. The Islanders outshot the Flyers 16-4 in the third period, but soft ice, red iron and puck luck prevented the puck from bulging twine.
“We played a good hockey game tonight,” Okposo said. “It wasn’t always perfect, but I thought we got better as the game went on. In the third period, we just took the game over. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get one by him earlier, but it’s a big two points.”
The win was the Islander’s 15th in the first 21 games, a franchise record to start the season. The Islanders also picked up their ninth win in 10 tries and improved to 6-0 in overtime/shootout games this season.
“It validates the couple of games we played on the weekend,” Okposo said. “You don’t want to play those games, have a couple of great wins and then come back and lay an egg. We did a good job of taking it to them, dominating the game and that’s how we need to play.”
The Islanders wrap up a three-game homestand with another divisional opponent, as they host the Washington Capitals on Thanksgiving Eve. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.