(John Tavares scores the game winning goal in the shootout)
After two enormous wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and with 12,409 people on hand, the Islanders were determined to have a strong performance against a division rival that they have not had much success against in recent years. In fact, they have just four wins against the Philadelphia Flyers since the 2007-08 season.
But the new look Islanders do not live in the past as they defeated the Flyers in a shootout at Nassau Coliseum. For the first time in franchise history they have started the season winning 15 of the club’s first 21 games.
“I thought we deserved to win the game tonight,” Jack Capuano stated with authority following the team’s impressive performance. “I thought we played extremely well, our goalie made some big saves when he had to… It’s a different makeup; it’s a different attitude a little different swagger to our team. We have great leadership and accountability amongst the guys.”
The Islanders had to adjust their lineup late as the team announced that both Thomas Hickey and Calvin de Haan had to miss the game due to illness. Matt Donovan played in his first game of the year with his family in the building after being a healthy scratch for the first 20 games. Brian Strait also returned to the lineup after playing sporadically throughout the first quarter of the season.
The Islanders tested Flyers goaltender Steve Mason early and often as they totaled 46 shots on net. In years past this team might have gotten frustrated but not this year, not with this group.
“We kept playing simple, kept chipping pucks deep and getting pucks to the net,” Frans Nielsen explained after scoring the first goal in the shootout. “We just played a gritty game like we did against Pittsburgh. It seems like we found a recipe for how this team is going to play.”
While Mason did his best to earn a point for his club his teammates had trouble beating Jaroslav Halak on the other end of the rink. It was a real goaltenders duel that kept both teams off the scoreboard for the first 65 minutes.
But just like they have done four times before tonight, the Islanders came through in the skills competition once again.
“It’s a big win, Kyle Okposo said. “Especially to validate those couple of games we played on the weekend. You don’t want to play those two games, have a couple of great wins and then come back and lay an egg. I thought we did a good job at being ready tonight and taking it to them. That’s how we need to play and we are just going to get better.”
By: Scott Charles
WLIE 540 AM SPORTSTALKNY Staff Writer
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