The Islanders had the opportunity to move into a tie for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, but failed to capitalize against the Philadelphia Flyers, Saturday afternoon at the Nassau Coliseum. Philadelphia scored two goals in the third period for a 4-1 victory. The win puts the Flyers in sole possession of eighth place – two points ahead of Buffalo and four ahead of the Islanders.
"Today was a big game and it just closes that window even more for us," said Brendan Witt, who returned to action after missing the past eight games. "We're playing for our lives right now. It's key to get on a bit of a run and we'll be back in the thick of things. We'll reflect on this but we have a big game tomorrow."
Mike Knuble scored a goal and added two assists. His tally came shorthanded in the third period with the game at 2-1. Martin Biron was nearly unbeatable, making 33 saves for his 23rd win of the season. Biron is 4-0-0 against the Islanders this season.
"We got a lot of shots, but not a lot of second chances," said Witt. "Guys are working hard out there. They're putting in the effort. It would be one thing to see guys not care, but guys do care."
The Islanders went 1-for-3 on the power play, but couldn't get the much-needed equalizer in the third period while on the man-advantage. The Islanders out-shot Philadelphia 34-31.
"It comes down to not executing certain plays and not getting pucks through to the net," said head coach Ted Nolan referring to the power play. "It's been a problem of ours. Outside of that, I thought our team worked hard. There was a playoff-type atmosphere out there."
Jeff Carter opened the scoring with 6:01 to play in the first period when Upshall fed him for a one-timer in the slot.
Captain Bill Guerin tied the game at one with his 20th goal of the season on a power play tally. Guerin skated into the slot and lifted a wrister past a screened Biron at 8:30 of the second period.
The Flyers regained the lead on a power play goal of their own with 5:36 remaining in the second period. Daniel Briere faked a shot before sliding a pass across to Braydon Coburn for a one-timer that Rick DiPietro had no chance on.
Philadelphia's shorthanded backbreaker came at 9:31 of the third period to make it a 3-1 Flyers advantage. Carter out-muscled Miroslav Satan for a loose puck and took an initial shot that was saved. Carter recovered the puck and banked it off Knuble and DiPietro while stationed behind the goal line.
"There's not much you can do when you get out-muscled for a puck," said Nolan. "Carter just wanted it a little bit more than we wanted it. Then they got a lucky break. Outside of that it's the will to want the puck and to battle."
Scottie Upshall added an empty-netter in the game's final minute.
Tomorrow, the Islanders return to the Nassau Coliseum to host the Florida Panthers on Allstate Core of the Four day, celebrating the 17 men who played on all four Stanley Cup Champion winning teams.
"I've told the guys that every game is important from here on out," said Nolan. "The playoffs start now."
Five Stars of the Game: 1. Martin Biron: Has allowed seven goals in four games against the Islanders this season 2. Mike Knuble: Goal, two assists, +3 3. Jeff Carter: Goal, assist, +3 4. Braydon Coburn: Scored his sixth goal of the season, +2, 24:40 TOI 5. Scottie Upshall: 10th goal of season, assist, +2
Stat of the Game: The Flyers blocked 24 shots to the Islanders' six. Jason Smith led the way with six blocks for Philadelphia.
Slapshots:Bill Guerin became the second player in NHL history to score 20 goals in a season with six different teams (Ray Sheppard)…The first power play was at 7:59 of the second period…Today's attendance was 15,136...Jeremy Colliton played in his second NHL game of the season...Frans Nielsenis out 2-4 weeks with a shoulder injury.
Post-game On-ice Shootout: Following the game, hundreds of kids stormed the Coliseum ice for an opportunity to shoot on the Islanders goals. Stay tuned for pictures from the post-game event.
Kickbutt Fans of the Game:Kevin Grieb, 12, from Lake Grove was sporting his Islanders jersey filled with autographs. Some of his signatures include Ted Nolan, Trent Hunter, Sparky and Radek Martinek. He's been a huge Islanders fan since he was eight years old.
Game Operations: Today's ceremonial puck drop included Islanders greats Al Arbour, Bill Torrey and Bob Nystrom, as well as Pam Bialkin, who has been a season ticketholder with her father since 1972…
As part of Fan Appreciation Day at the Coliseum, all fans in attendance received team posters courtesy of Valtech…Throughout the game dozens of prizes were given away including a 42" plasma TV and 2 round trip airline tickets on American Airlines…During the first intermission, James Luedtke was presented with Bill Guerin's team signed motorcycle after winning the online auction for $17,800. The money will be donated to the Islanders Children's Foundations…Ruslan Fedotenko was named the Islanders Sharp Player of the Month. Sharp will donate $500 to Fedotenko's charity of choice – the Islanders Children's Foundation…Islanders TV put together a video tribute to Bill Hayes, who has attended over 1,500 Islanders game…New York Dragons star quarterback Aaron Garcia was in attendance at today's game. Dragons season begins Monday with the home opener on March 9 at the Nassau Coliseum at 3 pm. To order tickets click here.
11 Andy Hilbert - 89 Mike Comrie - 13 Bill Guerin
26 Ruslan Fedotenko - 63 Josef Vasicek – 7 Trent Hunter
20 Sean Bergenheim – 10 Richard Park – 81 Miroslav Satan
15 Jeff Tambellini – 72 Jeremy Colliton – 57 Blake Comeau
Goaltenders 43 Martin Biron
30 Antero Niittymaki
77 Ryan Parent - 21 Jason Smith
5 Braydon Coburn - 44 Kimmo Timonen
6 Randy Jones - 28 Lasse Kukkonen
40 Vaclav Prospal - 48 Daniel Briere - 20. R.J. Umberger
9 Scottie Upshall - 17 Jeff Carter - 22 Mike Knuble
19 Scott Hartnell - 25 Patrick Thoresen - 24 Sami Kapanen
32 Riley Cote - 34 Jim Dowd - 27 Steve Downie
Check out the Islanders TV Game Day tab for complete coverage tonight’s game.
PRESS PASS TV'S JOSEPH GANNASCOLI COVERS ALLSTATE CORE OF THE FOUR NHL POWERED BY RBK STORE EVENT
New York sports fan and The Sopranos star Joseph Gannascoli was at the NHL Powered by Rbk store on Thursday covering the Core of the Four panel discussion for Press Pass TV. Gannascoli talked to Islanders legends Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Bob Nystrom and Ken Morrow, as well as GM Garth Snow.
Click here to watch the Press Pass video from the Islanders Core of the Four event on Thursday.
1 - 0 PHI
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHI
3 - 1 PHI
4 - 1 PHI