Islanders score rare win in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA -- The four years and 13 games that have passed since the last Islanders win in this hostile environment have been a catalogue of their failures. They've been unable to beat a division rival, sometimes unable even to be competitive and certainly unable to make the playoffs.
Thursday night was different, and not just because the Islanders took a 4-1 win out of the Wells Fargo (formerly Wachovia, formerly First Union) Center. Their first win here since April 7, 2007, was a second straight impressive performance, following up on the 3-0 shutout of the Capitals in Washington two nights earlier.
Evgeni Nabokov made 40 saves Thursday night and was the clear star of the show, helping to stifle any Flyer momentum in a second period that featured three Flyers power plays. He came within 9:12 of a second straight shutout but helped close the door after the Flyers cut it to 3-1 just past the midway point of the third.
"He's been strong for us," Jack Capuano said, "but this was his strongest performance."
John Tavares set up Matt Moulson's 22nd goal, a great spin-o-rama feed just 28 seconds into the second to open the scoring. Tavares also had two second-period breakaways and assisted on Mark Streit's power-play goal that made it 3-0 at 7:07 of the third.
Josh Bailey flipped in a shorthanded goal on a second-period breakaway at 12:58, the last of three shorthanded breakaways the Isles had during that strange second period in which the Flyers had some momentum and pelted Nabokov with shots but still let the Islanders get free.
"It's obviously a big win for us in this building," said Bailey, who scored his first goal in 17 games and only his second career shorthanded goal. "We needed these points and we need to start climbing in the standings."
They still need to make bigger strides, but the Islanders finished the night tied with the Canadiens for 12th in the East, the first time the Isles have been out of 14th or 15th since Oct. 31. They are 10 points behind eighth-place Florida but there are fewer teams clogging their path.
The only members of the current Islanders staff who were around when the Isles grabbed a 4-2 win from the Flyers in the second-to-last game of the 2006-07 season are general manager Garth Snow and equipment managers Scott Boggs and Rich Krouse. Still, some Islanders marveled at the nearly five years that had elapsed since they last won here.
"It definitely means something," P.A. Parenteau said. "This is a big stretch for us. These 10, 12 games are going to determine what our season's going to be. We beat a good team in a tough building, and that's something to take with us."
That win in 2007 carried over to the next day against the Devils when Wade Dubielewicz's well-known shootout poke-check propelled the Islanders into the playoffs. There's still a long way to go to get to that point this season, but the Islanders needed to start somewhere.
The house of horrors on Broad Street probably was the best place.