Over the past two weeks, the Islanders have talked plenty about transformation.
They’re having fun, they’re scoring goals, they’re a different team under head coach Jack Capuano.
That much was evident in the team’s gutsy effort to erase a two-goal third period deficit. And in the way Andrew MacDonald and Michael Grabner sacrificed their bodies to block shots in the overtime period. And in the way the depleted defense stepped up against a deep Philadelphia squad.
But these Flyers still give them trouble.
Matt Martin tallied twice in the third period, including the game-tying goal with 27.1 seconds left in regulation, but the Islanders fell to the Flyers 4-3 after Andrej Meszaros’ game-winner at 4:42 in overtime.
“We haven’t had too much success [here], but we battled back and it’s unfortunate how it finished,” Martin said.
The Islanders have now dropped 19 of their past 20 games against the Flyers. Their past 12 in Philadelphia. They have not won a game on Broad Street since April 7, 2007.
Despite the harrowing numbers, however, coach Jack Capuano was pleased with his team’s comeback effort.
“We were good tonight,” he said. “That was one of the best games we’ve played. It was exciting to be back behind the bench tonight. I was proud of the guys. We never quit.”
The Flyers and Islanders traded goals in the third before Martin’s equalizer to send the game into overtime.
With the Flyers up 2-1, Islander-killer Jeff Carter deflected Claude Giroux’s shot in front by at 5:05. Carter now has 18 goals and 22 assists for 40 points in 37 games against the Islanders.
Less than two minutes later Micheal Haley dug one out along the end-boards to Martin, who pulled the Islanders within a goal, 3-2, at 6:31.
Martin netted his second of the period to tie the game at 19:32 of the third, but Meszaros potted the game-winner in overtime.
“They came down on a 2-on-1, I gave up the body and the guy made a great play,” said Al Montoya, who made 39 saves in his 4th consecutive start. “I got back in position and just saw it at the last second. Great shot, top corner. This is a tough one to swallow.”
The Flyers limited the Islanders to only six shots in the first period, but Frans Nielsen tallied on the third.
Nielsen breezed along the boards, beating Darroll Powe then defenseman Matt Carle before ripping a shot from the right circle to beat Russian rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 9:03. Defenseman Jack Hillen and goaltender Al Montoya both picked up assists on the end-to-end play.
Trailing the Islanders 1-0, the Flyers surged in the second, scoring a pair of goals to escape the period with a one-goal lead.
Flyers captain Mike Richards tied the game at 1:58 with his goal from the slot and Claude Giroux gifted linemate James van Riemsdyk with a beautiful, no-look backhand pass later in the period. Van Riemsdyk beat Montoya for a 2-1 Flyers lead at 17:31.
It was the second straight game the Islanders were without veteran defensemen Radek Martinek (lower-body) and Milan Jurcina (groin). That in addition to the pre-existing injuries to Mark Streit (shoulder), Mark Eaton (hip) and Mike Mottau (hip) that have battered their blue line.
“Unbelievable effort with our young defensive corps,” Montoya said. “They could have seized up but they didn’t.”