PHILADELPHIA — Maybe it was the ridiculously cosmic bounce that led to the Flyers’ first goal. Maybe it was coming up against Jakub Voracek, who leveled Johnny Boychuk earlier this month. Or maybe it was the frustration of watching two five-on-threes evaporate into nothing.
Whatever it was, the Islanders found something that had been missing for the last few days on Saturday afternoon. Barry Trotz called it resilience. The Islanders’ savior, Josh Bailey, called it confidence.
Whatever it was, it added up to a 4-2 win over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center and a hope in the Islanders’ dressing room that they’ll be able to right the ship as the regular season draws to a close.
Bailey, who hadn’t scored in the previous 12 games, broke the drought with 3:57 left in the third period, gathering a pass from Brock Nelson and sniping a shot over Carter Hart to break a tie at 2. A little over a minute later, he added the garnish — a one-timer on an assist from Leo Komarov that sealed it for the Isles, who moved within a point of Metropolitan Division-leading Washington.
“It was one of those guys where there was a little bit of some strange things happening, you have a little bit of adversity,” Trotz said. “You’re doubting yourself a little bit. You’ve lost two games and the first [goal], the way it went in, you say, ‘What else is going to happen?’ But our response was resilient. We stayed with it.”
Bailey’s contributions could prove to be some of the biggest goals of the year for the Islanders, who were showing the early warning signs of a late-season tailspin. They had been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since 2011 and were losing sight of the defensive identity that has served them so well this season.
It looked as if it could be more of the same early on, as they let go of a prime opportunity. The Flyers’ Radko Gudas got sent to the box for hooking and, a little over a minute later, Robert Hagg got a double- minor for a high stick (replays showed it actually was Nelson’s stick).
The Islanders, though, got called for too many men on the ice, extinguishing the five-on-three, and the power play ended without any further damage.
At 6:39, Hagg earned his vengeance, as a wide shot off the end board ricocheted off Casey Cizikas’ stick and squeaked by Robin Lehner’s glove to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. At 14:27, however, Nelson batted in a puck that had bounced off Gudas’ stick in front of the net, tying it.
“Sometimes just results breed confidence,” Bailey said. “Sometimes you’re doing the right things and the other team gets a bounce and things can tend to snowball for you. Tonight we seemed to get one back with Brock and we really found our game after that.”
The Islanders put the pressure on in the second period and finally were rewarded at 10:58 when Nick Leddy’s one-timer from the top of the slot — off a feed from Mathew Barzal — put the them up 2-1, their first lead since last Sunday, three games earlier.
The Islanders had another prime opportunity when an interference call on Ryan Hartman and an unsportsmanlike- conduct call on Voracek earned them another five-on-three at 2:16 of the third. The Isles, though, lost the puck twice and managed only two shots on goal.
The passive effort cost them after Scott Mayfield was sent to the box for hooking at 6:12 of the third. Four seconds later, Shayne Gostisbehere’s slapper to the stick side beat Lehner, tying it at 2.
“They seemed to rally from [the five-on-three] a little bit, scored a power-play goal of their own, and I thought we just got back to work after that,” Bailey said. “All in all, it was a good win for us. We really needed it. Sometimes it’s just a break here and there. That can open things up for you. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”