Kevin Hayes knew none of the New York Islanders defenders were going to catch him as he set sail on a clean breakaway during Monday night’s game.
The Flyers’ rangy center rushed in on goaltender Semyon Varlamov, tried a couple head fakes and went to his backhand. For a split-second it appeared Hayes might have a chance to score but just then the puck slid off his stick and harmlessly into the corner.
It was that kind of night for Hayes and that kind of night for the Flyers, who dropped a 4-0 decision at Scotiabank Arena.
According to Hayes, the Flyers created enough chances against Varlamov, they just couldn’t pull the trigger when it mattered.
“You can have as many good looks as you want and pat yourself on the back, but if you don’t score, it’s pointless,’’ Hayes said. “I thought we played with speed and got pucks behind their net. Ultimately we need to cash in on some of those chances.’’
He can say that again.
The top-seeded Flyers know they can’t fall behind by a 2-0 margin in this series. That would put New York in a quite dominating position.
Teams with a 2-0 lead are 328-51 (86.5 percent) winning a best-of-seven Stanley Cup playoff series, including a 4-0 record in the first round this year.
The Islanders have respect for the Flyers and it sounds like they anticipate some changes for Game 2. But, as they did in their five-game elimination of the Washington Capitals in the first round, New York ultimately sticks to worrying about their own game.
“This Flyers team, they’re very good structurally,’’ the Islanders’ Jordan Eberle said in a Zoom call from Toronto. “They obviously have a lot of depth up front. Every line can hurt you.
“But at the same time, we just want to focus on the way we’re playing. We know the way we have to play in order to have success. And when we stick to it, we generally do. A lot of the times you worry about yourself and you’re making changes in the teams you’re playing and worrying about what they’re doing a little bit but a lot of it is what we’re doing.’’
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault was asked if a shift in strategy – perhaps getting more pucks to the back line for more points shots – might be a way to generate more traffic on Varlamov.
“I believe that if we got the looks that we got in that second period (in Game 1), sooner or later some of those are going to go in,’’ Vigneault said. “It seemed like momentum shifted (from the first period), it was a 1-0 game, a one-shot going in to tie it up.
“When they make it 2-0, with how solid they are defensively, it makes it real tough on any opponent. The Islanders have proved that all year long. Tomorrow we’re going to have to be better.’’