Philadelphia Flyers: Isles strong in second, take series lead

Despite a strong start by the Flyers, it was the Islanders who took over in the second and grabbed the series lead.

After two days off, the Flyers came into Saturday night ready to go. They looked like the faster team and were able to get in on the forecheck. It was looking like their best effort in the series.

With Scott Laughton back in the lineup, he joined up with Tyler Pitlick and James van Riemsdyk. The trio looked like the strongest line for the Flyers in the first period. They would end up grabbing the first goal of the game.

Pitlick was able to shake off a defender and get the puck to Laughton. He circled behind the net and came out for the face-off dot. Laughton was knocked off the puck, but Pitlick picked it up. He fired a writer through traffic that Semyon Varlamov had trouble seeing.

It was Pitlick’s second of the playoffs as his line was having a very good first period. They helped the Flyers take five of the first six shots of the game. The Islanders would end up with the shot advantage after the first.

But it was Carter Hart, per usual, that kept them off the scoresheet. Josh Bailey had an excellent chance in the middle of the slot but he elected to pass. Brock Nelson tried to beat Hart from the side of the net. Hart was able to stretch across and get a piece of it with his glove.

The Islanders would flip the script on the Flyers in the second, though. They were the ones first in on the forecheck and were forcing the turnovers. The Flyers had been good in the first to not turn the puck over.

One of said turnovers allowed the Islanders to come in on a 2-on-0 after stealing the puck in the neutral zone. Ivan Provorov was able to catch up to the play and cut the pass off before the shot came in on Hart.

The Isles pressed, though, and were able to even the game up. It was yet another turnover in the zone as Mathew Barzal was able to win a battle along the end boards. This allowed Matt Martin to sneak towards the front of the net. Hart got most of the shot, but not enough as it trickled through his arm.

Up until that point, the Flyers still didn’t have a shot in the period. That was almost nine minutes in. They finally grabbed their first with 10:24 to go. That was their first shot in 11:44.

And just when it looked like the two teams would end up tied heading into intermission, the Isles struck again. This time, it was a turnover by Provorov. Trying to get the puck out of the zone, it was picked off by Derick Brassard. He fired off a shot that was stopped by Hart.

Brassard then took the rebound and managed to fight off Matt Niskanen behind the net. He got the puck in front to Leo Komarov. It was another shot that Hart got most of, but not all. It snuck through the pads with just five seconds left.

It was a deflating goal as the teams headed to the second intermission. And with no penalties called in the first two periods, the Flyers found themselves on the kill early on in the third. It was Robert Hagg who, despite his own stick breaking, was sent off for slashing.

The Islanders only took one shot on the ensuing power play, but it went in. It was another greasy goal. After passing it around the zone, Jordan Eberle ended up with the puck on the right wall. He sent it in front to Anders Lee. Hart tried to cut the pass off but ended up deflecting Lee’s backhand chance into his own net.

Just like that, it was 3-1 Islanders. They had two goals on their last two shots.

Varlamov was forced to come up with the big save after the Isles couldn’t get anything done on another power play. Travis Konecny found Kevin Hayes behind the net. Hayes backhanded a pass to Joel Farabee who was alone in front. Varlamov was able to get the end of the pad on the puck to keep the two-goal lead.

The Flyers finally got their first chance on the power play with less than five minutes to go. Lee was caught on the ice without his helmet after it was knocked off in a fight with Laughton. It would be a huge boost to cut the deficit on this man advantage.

They sure went for it by emptying the net with four minutes to go. It gave them a 6-on-4 advantage. However, they were unable to cash in on the power play. They still had the extra skater advantage, though.

Varlamov stood tall on the chances he did see late as the Islanders would take the series lead after this one. It won’t be long before the two meet again, though. The Flyers have a chance to once again even the series on Sunday night.