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Islanders Fend Off Flyers In OT After Giving Away Point In Final Seconds Of Regulation



AP Photo/Matt Slocum

PHILADELPHIA– Brock Nelson scored the winning goal in overtime Monday night at Wells Fargo Center, helping the New York Islanders earn a 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Normally, it’s a situation filled with jubilation. But even after Nelson snapped a personal 10-game scoring drought, the look on his face and the rest of the Islanders was reserved, knowing they gave away a point in the final seconds of regulation.

Protecting a one-goal lead in the third period, the Islanders failed to provide themselves extra breathing room facing an extra attacker. With 9.6 seconds left until the final horn, Flyers forward Morgan Frost stuffed a puck past Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov for the tying goal.

The Islanders still earned a pair of critical points in overtime, but handing one to the team they’re chasing for the final card spot in the Eastern Conference shrinks the impact of an overall major victory.

“We knew this was a bit of a deal-breaker game for us,” Ryan Pulock said. “It’s a little frustrating that we weren’t able to close that out the right way.”

Nevertheless, there’s something to be said for a team that found a way to keep coming back in its biggest game of the season in a year where they’ve routinely failed to answer the bell.

“You just got to push through,” said Anders Lee. “These games are extremely important. You just got to stay even keel and keep moving forward.”

After Noah Cates opened the scoring for Philadelphia just under five minutes into the first period, the Islanders responded with a pair of goals to take the lead in quick succession.

On one of the rare instances that the Islanders managed to set up in the offensive zone, Matt Martin collected a feed from Kyle MacLean in between the faceoff dots and threw a changeup toward the net that buckled Flyers goalie Samuel Ersson for his fourth goal of the season.

Eighteen seconds later, Mathew Barzal set up Bo Horvat off the rush to put the Islanders ahead 2-1. The goal was the 30th of the season for Horvat and made for the 500th point of his NHL career.

“When they scored that first one, I think we needed a bit of a spark,” said  Islanders head coach Patrick Roy. “We got a big goal from the line of Clutterbuck, MacLean and Martin, but we needed to create something. I thought having Bo and Barzal back together was probably the best thing to do.”

With four saves on six shots, Ersson’s night was done after 20 minutes of play. In classic John Tortorella fashion, the Flyers head coach inserted the newly arrived Russian netminder Ivan Fedotov into the game at the start of the second period.

The decision worked instantly for Philadelphia as Travis Sanheim tied the score 43 seconds into the middle frame. But the momentum swing didn’t last.

The Islanders outshot the Flyers 16-3 in the second period and carried a 3-2 lead into the third after Lee deflected Alexander Romanov’s point shot for his 19th goal of the season.

The only reason the game remained so close was because of Fedotov. Each of the 19 saves the six-foot-seven behemoth made was met with an overwhelming cheer from the Philadelphia faithful.

But as good as the rookie was for the Flyers, he was bested by the veteran in goal for the Islanders.

Starting his third straight game for the first time in two seasons, Varlamov made 30 saves on 33 shots to help the Islanders pick up a critical victory.

Now with 79 points, the Islanders trail the Flyers by four in the wildcard standings while holding two games in hand.

The Islanders face the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow evening at UBS Arena. Puck drop is slated for 7:30 p.m. EST.




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