PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The New York Islanders finally left Philadelphia with a victory after four frustrating years and 13 straight losses.
Evgeni Nabokov made sure of that, making 40 saves in the Islanders’ 4-1 victory over the Flyers on Thursday night.
Josh Bailey, Matt Moulson, Mark Streit and Michael Grabner scored to help the Islanders also break an eight-game losing streak against Philadelphia, which had won 23 of its previous 24 games against the Islanders.
The victory was the Islanders’ third in their last four games, and it marked the first time New York won in Philadelphia since April 7, 2007, a 4-2 victory.
“It was a good feeling, we haven’t much success, it’s been since `07, I think, in April, the last time the Islanders have won here,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We played hard, but they came in the third and they came in waves, and I thought Nabby (Nabokov) was real good, but again, special teams were a big part of tonight’s game with the short-handed goal and the power-play goal late. We played (the Flyers) pretty good at home and we didn’t get the results, and it was good for the guys to get rewarded.”
Capuano is hoping the consecutive victories in Philadelphia and Washington, two playoff-caliber teams, could spur something better.
“For us, it’s to build off the intangibles and our commitment to defense and the things that we talk about like blocking shots and chipping pucks in when there’s no play, and taking the ice that’s available,” Capuano said. “I thought over the last little while we’ve done a better consistent effort, and that’s what we have to do to be successful.”
Matt Read scored Philadelphia’s lone goal, his 14th, in the third period.
The Islanders outplayed Philadelphia throughout most of the game, beating the Flyers to loose pucks and using smart passing that created three breakaway opportunities. One came short-handed, when Bailey took a loose puck at mid-ice and came barreling in on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
“We left him (Bobrovsky) out to dry too many times,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “We didn’t support each other well for the first two periods. We left one man to figure things out for himself. It’s unacceptable. We weren’t good enough the first two periods.”
Bailey’s fourth goal of the season came on a nifty move by coaxing Bobrovsky forward, then lifting a backhander over the goalie’s left shoulder to give New York a 2-0 at 12:58 into the second period.
Moulson beat Bobrovsky, who was 7-0 lifetime against the Islanders, for the first goal of the game 28 seconds into the second period. It was Moulson’s 22nd goal this season, made possible from an assist by John Tavares.
Tavares was stymied on two breakaway chances, but he extended his point streak to a career-high 11 games on the Moulson assist.
“That’s the way we have to play, that’s our style of game,” Tavares said. “We frustrated them, we played our game. We should have been up 3-, 4-0 after the second. Sometimes they don’t go in so you just stick with it and we did and we got a power play there in the third and it was a big goal for us.
“We capitalized when we needed to. We put them on their heels, we challenged them with our speed and our transition. We just got to keep doing those right things, keep being in the right positions, doing good things defensively and opportunities will come.”
Streit added some cushion to the Islanders’ victory with a third-period power-play goal, his third this season. Grabner added an empty-net goal.
Tavares was a 16-year old playing in the juniors the last time the Islanders won in Philadelphia, yet he knew the history.
“We know what’s happened the last few years, the way things have gone for us here,” Tavares said. “Especially the way we played, our approach to the game, our attitude, the way we stuck with things, didn’t give them a whole lot. We definitely can enjoy it, that’s for sure. This is a fun building to come into and play and it’s nice to pull one out and we did.”
NOTES: Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren addressed Chris Pronger’s situation before the game. The defenseman has been out since Nov. 19 and lost for the season with “severe post-concussion syndrome.” Holmgren said the team wasn’t going to make any rash decisions, and “I don’t know if it’s a (career-ending injury). He’s seeing doctors again Feb. 1 and we’ll see where we are.” Holmgren also stated that the Flyers would be interested in re-signing Jaromir Jagr and has admitted the team has had talks with Jagr. “We’d like to have him back,” Holmgren said. … Josh Bailey’s second-period goal was his 100th career NHL point, and Matt Moulson’s first-period goal extended his point streak to six games.
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