The Islanders effectively acknowledged what they expected against the Philadelphia Flyers with their decision to call up enforcer Trevor Gillies, an option seldom exercised this season.
The game delivered in that respect with a physical, chippy contest, but while the Islanders’ effort and battle level was there, the results were not.
With their 2-1 loss to the Flyers at Wachovia Center, the Islanders dropped their fourth consecutive game and their 14th straight against Philadelphia.
The Flyers hold the NHL’s longest active winning streak against an opponent with their dominance over the Islanders, who have not beaten Philadelphia since February 12, 2008.
“When it comes down to being one of the best eight teams, your production has got to be there more than it isn’t,” captain Doug Weight said. “We’re doing some good things, but we have to get results. This is the farming time of year when you need the crops, you need the results.”
While the Islanders successfully killed off five of six penalties during the game, they suffered a power outage with the man-advantage. The Islanders were 0-for-4 on the power play last night.
“I think the difference in a game like this is being able to score on the power-play,” coach Scott Gordon said.
The Islanders fell behind by two goals in the first period, marking the third straight game the team has begun the second period battling a deficit of two goals or more.
A stealthy wraparound shot from Danny Briere gave the Flyers 1-0 lead at 8:22 and the Islanders gave up a power-play goal to Scott Hartnell later in the period.
Hartnell made a crisp feed from the goal line to Mike Richards in the high slot and then positioned himself to re-direct Richards’ drive for a goal at 17:12.
The claws came out in the second period, as the two teams clashed and tensions erupted.
A fiery scrum ensued after Philadelphia was awarded their second power-play goal of the game at 12:38 after Hartnell barreled into Dwayne Roloson allowing Flyers’ defenseman Kimmo Timonen’s shot to break through.
An irate Roloson argued with Kerry Fraser as the two sides were sparring along the end-boards and ultimately saw his case affirmed.
After review the goal was waved off and Hartnell went to the penalty box for goaltender interference, although not before sharing a few choice words with the Islanders bench.
Seconds after the power play expired Josh Bailey tallied to cut the Flyers lead in half 2-1, swiftly tapping in Kyle Okposo’s rebound at 14:44 and receiving a jab to the face from Hartnell afterwards.
The rough stuff continued in the third period, as Dan Carcillo crashed into Roloson and knocked him over, drawing an interference call at 3:40 and inciting a skirmish involving Bailey, defensmen Dustin Kohn and Freddy Meyer, and even some pawing from John Tavares.
“That’s obviously the style they play and have since they had Bobby Clarke in the ‘70’s,” said former Flyer Freddy Meyer, who tied the team-high with 4 hits. “It was a gritty hockey game.”
Carcillo’s penalty gave the Islanders their fourth power-play opportunity of the game, but once again they couldn’t convert.
Although pleased with his team’s effort, Gordon cited the need to improve execution.
“It’s not easy around their net, you have to fight and claw for everything,” he said, “but a power-play goal or two would’ve made the difference.”