PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The New York Islanders continue to feel right at home on the road.
Colin McDonald scored two goals, Josh Bailey tallied the clinching score in the shootout and the Islanders won again on the road, coming up with a 4-3 shootout victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
John Tavares also scored for New York, which won its fourth straight on the road while improving to 10-4-1 away from home this season to pull into a tie with the Rangers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“It’s a good character win,” New York coach Jack Capuano said. “We rebounded. We changed the lines in the second, and just tried to juggle some things to get it going. We played well.
“We found a way. We didn’t quit and we’ll take the two points. They’re a big team over there, a fast team, and we kept going.”
Scott Hartnell scored twice and Mike Knuble also tallied for the Flyers, who blew a two-goal lead while falling further out of the playoff picture. Philadelphia, which last missed the playoffs in 2007, knows it can’t settle for just one point.
“We feel like we are a team that should be in the playoffs and we’re not,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who had a pair of assists. “We need to find a way to get those points like tonight. It’s not that we didn’t battle, it’s just bounces that go in. So it’s tough bounces, but like I said, we feel we are a team that should be in the playoffs right now.”
Added Hartnell: “It just seems like a loss right now. Got a 2-0 lead and seems like we just freeze, stop moving. We just stopped doing what we did in the first period. Every line was playing great and then all of the sudden we just put on the brakes. It’s frustrating to watch. We know we’re doing it, nothing you can do. I don’t know what the answer is.”
The Isles, who last made the playoffs in 2007, dominated the final two periods of regulation after falling behind 2-0 in the first period.
McDonald tied the game at 2 with 9:56 left in the final period when his one-timer from close range after Keith Aucoin’s pass from behind the net beat Ilya Bryzgalov on the stick side.
McDonald scored again from the point 5 1/2 minutes later when his slap shot deflected off the skates of Flyers defenseman Bruno Gervais and past Bryzgalov to put New York ahead 3-2.
“I know what’s expected of me out there, I don’t try to do too much,” said McDonald, who has six goals this season. “I just try to create energy. And any offense I can generate is a bonus. I’ll take it tonight.”
It looked as though McDonald’s tally would be the game-winner, but the Flyers tied it with 29.8 seconds left in regulation when Hartnell tallied on the power play with Bryzgalov pulled. New York goalie Evgeni Nabokov appeared to have the puck frozen, but it was knocked loose and to Hartnell in front of the left post. Hartnell corralled the puck with his skates and then knocked it past a sprawled Nabokov.
After a scoreless overtime period, the teams each scored once in the regulation period of the shootout. After Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds missed his attempt in the fourth round, Bailey wristed a shot past Bryzgalov on the stick side to give New York two points.
“We need the two points in any way shape or form, so we’ll take it and try to build from it,” Tavares said. “We started slow, but every line contributed and we battled back. We finished checks, created opportunities down low and it feels good to get this one here.
“We turned it over too many times and dug ourselves a hole, but we turned it around and you could really feel it swinging our way. We really felt there in the third that it was just a matter of time.”
The Flyers took a 2-0 lead after the first period on goals from Hartnell and Knuble. Hartnell opened the scoring by one-timing a pass from Giroux from the slot low and to Nabokov’s glove side. Hartnell fanned a bit on the shot, shaking his head in mock disgust before smiling after the power-play tally.
Knuble, who was a healthy scratch in eight straight games and 10 of the last 11, put Philadelphia ahead two goals when he finished a 2-on-1 break by deking past Nabokov with a slick backhanded shot into a wide-open goal.
“We were looking good,” Knuble said. “They really pushed back. We haven’t played with a lead well. You’re running around and not taking care of the puck and let the ice tilt in our direction, then we’re back on our heels. It’s just the way it’s going this year and it’s why where we are where we are.”
Added Flyers coach Peter Laviolette: “It seemed like we stopped pressing offensively like we had been and that can be dangerous.”
The Islanders nearly pulled within a goal when Andrew MacDonald’s slap shot beat Bryzgalov, but the puck entered the net after the first-period buzzer had sounded to nullify the goal.
The Islanders scored their first goal with 1 minute left in the second period when Tavares netted his 21st goal of the season. Tavares, who began the day second in the league in goals scored, passed the puck toward the net and it caromed off the foot of Flyers defenseman Erik Gustafsson and past Bryzgalov.
Notes: Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn left the game in the second period after suffering an upper-body injury and didn’t return. … Philadelphia entered having won 29 of the last 33 meetings with the Islanders. … Giroux has tallied 23 points in his last 16 games against the Islanders.
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