UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The week was proceeding rather well for the Flyers but on the seventh day they rested.
Three straight wins over Vegas, Chicago and Columbus had left the Flyers in a good frame of mind.
But on Sunday, things came crashing down to earth.
The red-hot New York Islanders, now winners of seven straight games, took it to the Flyers early and often.
By the fifth minute of the second period, they had rung up five goals for a 5-2 lead and an early exit for Flyers goaltender Carter Hart.
And then the Islanders were the team which could afford to rest, with a 5-3 win at Nassau Coliseum.
Hart was left hung out to dry by a shaky Philadelphia defense. The 21-year-old netminder allowed five goals on just 14 shots and was lifted in favor of Brian Elliott at the 8:46 mark.
Too many turnovers, too many breakaways allowed and no miracle comeback like Saturday night’s five-goal rally against Columbus.
“I had a feeling this was the first team this year that skated better than us,’’ Jake Voracek said. “You have to give them credit, they played really fast.
“They were very physical in their forecheck, they caused us a lot of trouble. We were always going back for the puck and they always made contact with their first guy with our D and that’s how they scored the first of their first two goals.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault also tipped his hat to the Islanders’ fast, aggressive approach.
“You know, we got behind in this game very quickly,’’ Vigneault said. “It (New York) is a real good team defensively. It can shut it down and not give the opposition a lot.
“We obviously didn’t execute as well as we have in the past few games and we paid for it.’’
Ivan Provorov pointed out a few of the flaws in the Flyers’ game.
“I just think we didn’t break out as cleanly and lots of times they got out of their zone quick,’’ he said. “They had odd-man rushes and that kind of hurt us today.’’
Despite getting outchanced by a wide margin in the first period, the Flyers managed to escape trailing only 3-2.
Things started off on the right foot for the Flyers, with Voracek providing a 1-0 lead just 1:07 after the opening faceoff.
Voracek finished off Provorov’s set-up with a shot past goalie Semyon Varlamov.
Things went downhill from there, especially for Hart. New York scored three straight goals over a span of 8:29.
Anders Lee began the procession at 3:17, when he banged in the rebound of a Johnny Boychuk shot. Derick Brassard made it 2-1 at 4:22 off a three-on-two rush with Brock Nelson as the triggerman. Then Ross Johnston converted Cole Bardreau’s feed at 11:46
Travis Konecny tipped a Justin Braun shot past Varlamov at 16:38 to end the period but the Isles continued the parade of goals early in the second.
Ryan Pulock’s long shot eluded Hart’s glove at 4:13. Shortly after, defenseman Sam Morin, making his season debut, was caught flat-footed when Mathew Barzal dashed in and made it 5-2 at 5:38.
Vigneault waited a few more minutes before finally pulling Hart in favor of Elliott.
Despite the lack of support, Hart accepted most of the blame for his performance.
“For me, I just have to find a way to back into my rhythm,’’ he said. “Right now I’m just not playing where I feel I should be at. I know I’m better than that. I’ve been feeling really good in practice. Maybe I’m overthinking a couple things. I just have to go out and play the game.’’
Claude Giroux scored with 2:56 to play in the third period to draw the Flyers to within two goals.
“I don’t think we played our best,’’ he said. “It was an emotional game at home last night; we need to find a way to put that game behind us and move forward. I don’t think we did a good job with that tonight.’’
Vigneault wouldn’t rule out the possibility of bringing up a player from the Phantoms in Laughton’s absence. Vigneault said he would huddle with general manager Chuck Fletcher when the Flyers visit Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
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