The New York Islanders defeated the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night 4-3, their third win in eight days against the Flyers. Moreover, it was the Islanders’ 15th win of the season as they continue to make up ground in the Metropolitan Division standings and leaped into sixth place.
The Flyers are struggling, to say the least, losing a franchise-worst 13 games in a row, and the Islanders took advantage. They came back from an early two-goal deficit and had some players step up to take control of the game. They still have a lot of ground to make up in their push for the playoffs, but New York continues to be promising with the right pieces in place to make that run.
Barzal Leads Offense
Trailing 2-1 in the first period, Mathew Barzal picked up a Josh Bailey pass in the neutral zone and started the odd-man rush, fending off the Flyers’ defenseman for a two-on-one advantage. Barzal had the full attention of goaltender Martin Jones, setting up a great opportunity to find Anders Lee for the cross-ice pass on the Islanders’ second goal of the game.
In the second period, Barzal received a great pass from Zach Parise, who found him open in the offensive zone on the power play. Like Lee on the rush, Barzal caught Jones out of position and netted the Islanders’ third goal with a top-shelf shot. The Islanders’ top forward now has eight goals and a team-leading 18 assists, and against the Flyers, he showed his ability to create instant scoring chances.
Barzal remains one of the best skaters in the NHL, and his assist on Lee’s goal not only required the 24-year-old to lead the attack but fight off the Flyers’ backcheck. As the Islanders climb the standings, they will rely heavily on the Barzal-Lee duo, who have proven that they can create quick scoring chances and convert on chances in close.
Parise Heating Up
Against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, Parise was one of the few bright spots, scoring the Islanders’ only goal in a tough 3-1 loss. The game against the Maple Leafs was a sign of things to come for Parise as he is starting to lead the scoring surge for the Islanders later forward lines.
Parise found Barzal on the power play for the Islanders’ third goal with a great pass from behind the net through traffic. The big play of the game was in the final period when Parise scored the game-winning goal. Brock Nelson created space on the rush and sent a behind-the-back pass to Anthony Beauvillier, leaving the 37-year-old forward with a clear shot on the net for his third goal on the season.
The Islanders signed Parise in the offseason to add forward depth but early on, the move seemed like a mistake. Parise was getting shots on the net and creating scoring chances but failed to find the back of the net. In recent games, he’s converting on those chances, and his production has arrived at an ideal time as the Islanders’ season turns a corner.
Ilya Sorokin has been arguably the Islanders’ best player this season, and he has emerged as the starting goaltender. He had a .928 save percentage and a 2.26 goals-against average on 713 shots heading into the Flyers game and has been a calming presence even when his team struggled, keeping the games close with great saves.
The Islanders outshot the Flyers 33 to 17, outshooting their opponent for the third game in a row, but unfortunately, Sorokin had a bad start. He allowed three goals, and the Flyers caught him by surprise with their quick shots, or he didn’t play the puck correctly. This was a rough performance from the team’s 26-year-old goaltender and a shock considering he put together a shutout in his last start. However, this should serve as a reminder to head coach Barry Trotz of the need to start Semyon Varlamov to keep the young goaltender well-rested, especially with the tough schedule ahead.
Other Islanders Notes From the Win
Noah Dobson opened the scoring when he fired a shot from the point that zipped through traffic and found the back of the net. He has six goals on the season, which is more than the rest of the Islanders’ defensemen combined, and he has established himself as the best scoring defenseman on the team.
The Islanders face the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night followed by the Seattle Kraken two days later. Both opponents will make the trip east, and the Islanders need to take advantage to make up ground in the Eastern Conference.
Mike Fink joined The Hockey Writers in November 2020 and covers the New York Islanders. In addition to covering the Islanders, Fink has written for multiple sports blogs and platforms covering the NHL, NFL, MLB, and college sports. Follow Mike on Twitter @Finks_thoughts for more Islanders and general hockey insights.