It only took 20 minutes on Thursday night for the Islanders playoff chances to all but vanish. The Islanders played their worst period of the season and surrendered five goals in the first period as they fell 6-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers.
It was the Islanders third straight loss and pushed them six points out of the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Islanders saw the Carolina Hurricanes leapfrog them with overtime win over Columbus, and wins by the Boston Bruins and Tampa Lightning only made things harder on the Islanders.
While the Islanders managed to score three goals during the final 40 minute, it wasn’t enough to overcome the bad start they had in the first period. Thomas Greiss gave up three goals in the first 8:06 of the period before Jaroslav Halak came in to relieve the Islanders’ starter.
Halak surrendered two more goals before the period was done, and the Islanders surrendered 19 shots on goal while only registering 10 through 20 minutes.
“When you give up five in this league you’re not coming back,” interim head coach Doug Weight told MSG network after the loss. “It’s gonna be a rarity. You never give up, but it’s a shame.”
Calling Thursday night a shame might have been an understatement considering where the Islanders were just a week ago. The Islanders were sitting in a playoff spot after beating Pittsburgh last Friday, but losses to Boston, Nashville and now Philadelphia have changed things quite drastically.
Greiss made five saves on the eight shots he faced before he was pulled. The Islanders starter even made a few tough saves before the game went downhill fast.
Things started going south when Dale Weise tipped the puck past Griess for a 1-0 lead 4:30 into the game. Sean Couturier made it 2-0 just under two minutes later when he buried a rebound at 5:49.
It was Radko Gudas’ blast from the point at 8:06 that gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead and drove Greiss from the net, but Halak’s relief performance failed to change the Islanders’ fortune. Jordan Weal gave the Flyers a four-goal advantage when he potted a rebound goal just over a minute after the goaltending change.
Wayne Simmonds scored his 30th goal of the year at 15:42 while Philadelphia had a man-advantage.
“The first period they just took it to us,” Johnny Boychuk told MSG Network. “It was just an awful period and we have to be ready every period every game. Especially this time of year when we’re fighting for playoffs.”
The Islanders did manage to come out in the second period with a lot more jump and Cal Clutterbuck scored his fourth goal of the season 3:14 into the period. Clutterbuck jumped on a rebound inside the slot for his 100th career NHL goal.
While the goal was a welcomed sight, it would be the Islanders only in the second period. New York dominated the period, outshooting Philadelphia 22-3.
Jason Chimera scored 40 seconds into the third period to pull the Islanders within three and Andrew Ladd scored a late game goal to cut the deficit to two. However, an empty net goal by Valtteri Filppula sealed the win for the Flyers.
While their playoff chances are slim, the Flyers moved into a tie with the Islanders in the standings with 82 points. The Islanders return to New York on Friday to host the New Jersey Devils in their penultimate game of the year at Barclays Center.