UNIONDALE, N.Y. – A glance at the final score might lead one to think the Flyers used overwhelming offense to beat the Islanders for the second time in less than a week on Saturday night.
But even though the Flyers posted five goals on the Metro Division powerhouse, it was the Philadelphia defense which helped key this victory.
In the 5-2 win at Nassau Coliseum, defenseman Ivan Provorov was a plus-4 for the second straight game against the Isles.
Philadelphia beat New York, 4-1, last Sunday. Nine goals against the NHL’s stingiest defense are worth noting.
Provorov was on the ice for the entire 1:34 of a five-on-three Islander power play in the second period and that turned the momentum back in the Flyers’ favor. New York had only one shot during that stretch.
Goalie Brian Elliott ran his career record to 8-1-6 vs. the Islanders as the Flyers closed to within five points of a playoff spot.
It was the Flyers’ defense which really put the clamps on this contest, including the five-on-three power play.
“I thought we really did a good job with that (blocking shots, etc.),’’ said coach Scott Gordon. “I think we did enough to make them think twice about shooting because we were in the right places.
“That really helped us kill it. The guys did a good job of identifying the lanes, rotating, switching when needed. Excellent.’’
Elliott didn’t have to work quite as hard as he did in last Sunday’s win.
“I could pick out so many blocks from guys,’’ Elliott said. “Great back checks. (On the five-on-three) There wasn’t too much action. We pressured them when we had to – I think they were looking for a perfect play and we were in good position all the time.’’
Provorov seems to lift his game against the better opponents.
“I thought we did a really good job not giving them good shot opportunities,’’ Provorov said. “Keeping them to the outside. We sacrificed our bodies, blocked some shots and didn’t let them score.
“You never want to go down three-on-five but when it happens, you know the penalty kill has to step up and that’s what we did today. It gave us some momentum.’’
Added Provorov’s partner, Travis Sanheim, who was also a plus-4: “A lot of guys sacrificing (in the five-on-three). A bunch of big blocks. It could have been a key turning point in the game.’’
Even though the Islanders got off to a 1-0 lead at 6:30 of the first period, the Flyers knew that goal was a bit of a luck shot and didn’t bow their heads.
They came back with goals of their own from Ryan Hartman (15:20, his first with the Flyers) and James van Riemsdyk, his coming with only 3.1 seconds left in the period.
New York’s goal occurred when Scott Mayfield’s shot from outside the right circle deflected off Corban Knight’s stick and past Elliott.
The Flyers responded when Provorov drove deep into the left corner and flipped the puck in front of the net. Hartman got the puck and had his initial shot blocked by defenseman Devon Toews. But Hartman pounced on the rebound and drove it past goaltender Thomas Greiss.
“It was nice to get it (his first as a Flyer) out of the way,’’ Hartman said. “And to tie up the game. They had a little momentum going.’’
JVR scored off a scramble in front. Greiss committed to one side of the net and van Riemsdyk had a wide-open net to punch in his 20th goal of the season.
Just 1:34 into the second, Sean Couturier blasted home a shot from just above the left faceoff dot to make it 3-1 Flyers.
At 5:35, Claude Giroux hustled to hunt down a loose puck and fed Nolan Patrick for his 13th goal of the season.
Travis Konecny made it 5-1 17:26 off a three-on-one rush. In the third period, Christopher Gibson came in to relieve Greiss. Nick Leddy scored late for the Islanders’ second goal.
Patrick said he felt fine after getting one game off to deal with some after-effects of a head injury suffered against the Islanders last week.
“I didn’t miss too long so it wasn’t too bad,’’ Patrick said. “I still noticed it a little bit.’’
>Major penalty for Voracek
Jake Voracek received a five-minute major penalty for interference against Islander defenseman Johnny Boychuk at 5:42 of the third. As soon as Voracek got out of the box, he was confronted by Mayfield, who received a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
With the return of Voracek and Nolan Patrick, the Flyers went back to a six-defensemen set-up and Andrew MacDonald was scratched. . .Rookie goalie Carter Hart (ankle) is close to a return but coach Scott Gordon chose Cam Talbot to back up Elliott. . .The Flyers return to action on Monday when they host the Ottawa Senators. . .Giroux recently registered his 200th multi-point game, the most by any Flyer in over 30 years. The Flyers record in those games: 151-28-21. . .The Islanders scratched regular starting goalie Robin Lehner, who suffered a concussion in a recent game.