The New York Islanders mounted an exciting comeback Tuesday, but were stunned on a last-second goal, falling 5-4 to the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.
Anders Lee scored the game-tying goal with 28 seconds to play, as the Islanders scored twice in the final 1:44 to notch the game 4-4. With the game on the verge of going to overtime – one point was all the Islanders needed to clinch a playoff spot – Brayden Schenn threw a long-range wrist shot on net that beat Jaroslav Halak with three seconds to play.
“There’s a lot of character on our team,” Lee said. “We were real resilient tonight. Even thought we didn’t play our best game, we battled back, we fought back and took it down to the wire.”
John Tavares powered the late comeback, winning a pair of offensive-zone draws to set up Boychuk and Lee. Tavares whipped the puck to the point for Boychuk, who beat Steve Mason with a slap shot through traffic, and chipped the puck forward before backhanding it to Lee, who made no mistake alone in tight to tie the game. Lee’s second goal – his 25th of the season – looked to be the defining play of the game, until Schenn’s 18th eluded Halak.
“They got a bounce at the end,” Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “It’s one of those nights where the shot had eyes.”
The Islanders never led in Tuesday’s game, as Claude Giroux scored twice in the first period, giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead.
After the Islanders failed to score on an extended five-on-three, the Flyers had an extended opportunity of their own. The Islanders killed off the first penalty, but Giroux beat Jaroslav Halak with a one timer with 13 seconds to go in the second one. The Flyers captain scored again with 2:16 left in the period, wristing a feed from Mark Streit past Halak from the hashmarks.
The Islanders power play came through midway through the second period. Ryan Strome sent a slap pass to Tavares in the slot and the Islanders’ captain redirected his 36th goal of the season past Steve Mason at 9:34. Tavares finished the game with a goal and two assists – his season points total stands at 83 – establishing a new career high.
The Flyers answered back 1:12 later, as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare finished a backdoor play from Vincent Lecavalier. The Islanders outshot the Flyers 30-18 through 40 minutes, but trailed 3-1.
“We came into the second and played better,” Boychuk said. “In the third we played better than the second.”
Carlo Colaiacovo put the Flyers ahead 4-1 2:45 into the third period, one-timing a Zac Rinaldo feed past Halak, but then the Islanders mounted their comeback. It began with a Josh Bailey pass off the side of the net to Lee, before the Islanders’ rookie roofed a shot high on Mason at 8:21. Ten minutes later, Boychuk blasted a point shot through traffic and 1:16 after that, Lee briefly tied the score.
The Islanders trail the Washington Capitals by one point for second place in the Metropolitan Division. Both teams have two games left to play.
“We just have to go out and try to win every game right now,” Boychuk said. “We have to play our best. That’s what we need to do.”
The Islanders next game is Friday night in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.