ELMONT, N.Y. – Even before the first puck dropped, the Flyers knew they had their hands full.
They were playing a New York Islanders team which had suffered through a recent seven-game losing streak before eeking out a 5-4 shootout win at Calgary on Saturday. New York went into this game with a 6-6-5 mark and the Flyers know that team is better than that.
The Islanders were hungry for a regulation-time win in front of a holiday-festive home crowd.
So it came as no surprise that the Flyers suffered a narrow 3-2 loss Wednesday night at UBS Arena, snapping their five-game winning streak.
The Flyers did put up a game effort and were in this one until the end. They fell behind by a 3-1 score in the third period but refused to call it a night. They got within and were still competing hard at the end.
“Yeah, we bounce right back and score a second goal,” coach John Tortorella said.
Tortorella said he has a few players on the roster that aren’t quite on top of their game.
“There are two or three guys with some responsibility that we’re not getting enough out of here,” the coach said. “But we had a good push. We find a way to try to generate and he (goalie Ilya Sorokin) made some key saves.
“I don’t think we played bad tonight. We made a couple mistakes, they end up in our net. The biggest thing for me is two or three guys, I think they’re going the wrong direction as far as their play.”
Cam York’s goal at 14:52 of the second period cut New York’s lead to 2-1. York rushed down the left circle and used an Owen Tippett pass to get off a shot on Sorokin. York missed on his first rebound attempt but contained the loose puck and slid a shot between Sorokin’s legs.
“We had our chances to win, for sure,” York said. “Their goalie made some really nice saves. You know there’s definitely some positives to take out of this one.”
York’s goal offset a goal by Brock Nelson at 13:10. Nelson tipped in a shot by Adam Pelech.
Nelson’s second goal of the game at 2:31 of the third period gave the Islanders a 3-1 lead but Joel Farabee converted a Bobby Brink pass with 4:04 to play to make it close.
New York scored just 1:49 into the game when Islanders veteran Anders Lee looped out from behind the net and beat goaltender Carter Hart to the near post.
The Flyers had a number of good scoring chances but Sorokin was up to the task. Joel Farabee and Scott Laughton were turned aside on decent attempts.
Like York, Couturier was encouraged by the Flyers’ level of competition late in the game.
“We kept battling,” Couturier said. “We had our chances, we just couldn’t finish. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the two points but I think we can build on that for the next game.”
>Getting the jump
The Flyers didn’t score in the first period on Wednesday night but they did have 25 first-period goals through 18 games, which are a lot better than after 18 games last year when they only had 11.
“I just think it’s a little bit of our style of play,” coach John Tortorella said before the game. “We spent a lot of time teaching defending. Teaching away from the puck. I think we have a much better foundation in that part of the game. This year it’s been trying to stretch the zone, trying to get going offensively. It’s given us some life.”
The Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck got a big ovation from the home crowd as he played in his 1,000th NHL game. He’s been a mainstay on the Islanders for many years. . .With defenseman Marc Staal back, Louie Belpedio drew the short straw. Center Morgan Frost was a healthy scratch again. . .Flyers return to action on Friday afternoon when they play host to the New York Rangers in a 1:05 start at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers are 11th in the NHL in team goals-against average at 2.88. . .Philadelphia’s Brink ranks fourth in NHL rookie shooting percentage at 17.4 percent. He’s also tied for sixth in scoring with nine poings and is second in power-play goals with two. Tyson Foerster is sixth in shots with 32 (entering Wednesday night’s game). Foerster’s plus-5 is tied for fourth. . .Travis Sanheim entered Wednesday night’s game leading the top 25 scoring defensemen in ice time at nearly 26 minutes per game. . .The Flyers are 0-5 when trailing after two periods. . .Couturier played in his 738th game as a Flyer, tying him with Eric Desjardins for ninth place on the team’s all-time list. . .The Flyers outscored their opponents, 22-11, during their five-game win streak.