UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Islanders have developed a reputation for having a strong defense. With their offensive game starting to click, the team is beginning to build an intimidating identity.
Anders Lee, Derick Brassard, Ross Johnston and Ryan Pulock scored as the Islanders erased an early one-goal deficit. Semyon Varlamov stopped 28 shots in his third straight win.
“We’ve been competing for the last couple of weeks, we play for each other, it’s been a lot of fun,” Brassard said. “Guys are stepping up, we have good goaltending, everything is clicking right now.”
Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers, who had a three-game winning streak snapped. Carter Hart made nine saves on 14 shots before being replaced by Brian Elliott midway through the second period.
Voracek scored 1:07 into the game, and the Islanders countered with three straight goals.
Lee hustled and scored on a rebound to even the score at 1-1 at 3:17 of the first. The Islanders captain won a battle behind the net which allowed the Islanders to establish possession, then beat defenseman Travis Sanheim to the side of the net to finish the play. Johnny Boychuk and Barzal assisted on the play.
“He’s our leader,” Casey Cizikas said following this third game back after missing the previous five with a lower-body injury. “When you see him and he plays like that, getting to pucks, taking the body, fight in those dirty areas, you want to follow him. That’s what you want in your captain and he has done a tremendous job at leading us.”
Brassard scored his third in as many games after executing a give-and-go with Brock Nelson 65 seconds after Lee’s goal. Brassard, a natural center, has played left wing the last three games.
Johnston, usually an enforcer, completed the first-period barrage when he finished a feed from Cole Bardeau at 11:46. Bardeau earned his first NHL point on the play and is one of three rookies to make NHL debuts with the Islanders this season, along with Oliver Wahlstrom and Noah Dobson. Wahlstrom, 19, started the play when he forced Sanheim to turn the puck over in the corner alongside the Flyers net.
Before two costly defensive plays from Sanheim, he helped the Flyers take a 1-0 lead when he delivered a cross-ice pass to set up Voracek for his 199th NHL goal.
“It didn’t affect us a lot,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said of the Flyers early goal. “I thought our minds were in the right place. I don’t think it even fazed us. You got 59 minutes to get it back.”
Konecny cut the Flyers deficit to one, redirecting Justin Braun’s shot from the point past Varlamov at 16:38 of the first. Konecny has recorded at least one point in nine of the Flyers’ 10 games this season after signing a six-year, $33 million contract in mid-September.
The Islanders answered with two goals in the second period. Pulock hammered a slap shot past Hart at 4:13 of the middle frame to extend New York’s lead to 4-2. Cal Clutterbuck and Adam Pelech assisted on the play.
Barzal helped the Islanders seize control when he overwhelmed defenseman Samuel Morin with his speed. Lee chipped the puck out of the defensive zone, Barzal sped past Morin before sending a wrist shot between Hart’s pads 1:25 after Pulock’s goal, giving the Islanders a 5-2 advantage.
Elliott made 19 saves in relief of Hart after entering the game at the 8:46 mark of the second.
At 17:04 of the third period, James van Riemsdyk found Giroux alone in the slot and the Flyers’ captain scored his second of the season.
“We obviously didn’t execute as well as we had the past few games and we paid for it,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Their forecheck was obviously good because they forced our D into quite a few turnovers tonight and those turnovers were costly.”
NOTES: Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello announced Sunday morning that forwards Matt Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl will each be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with lower-body injuries. … New York scratched 19-year-old defenseman Noah Dobson for the eighth time this season. … Flyers forward Scott Laughton suffered a broken finger Saturday against the Blue Jackets and will miss the next four weeks. … The Flyers scratched defenseman Robert Hagg.
Flyers: Visit Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
Islanders: Host Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday.
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