Flyers Can’t Solve Semyon Varlamov as 25-Save Performance is Key to 2-1 Isles Victory
The Philadelphia Flyers dropped their second game against the New York Islanders this season, losing 2-1 on home ice.
The Flyers returned from the All-Star break starting an important 4 game homestand but weren’t able to get past the Islanders, who sat 4 points up on the Flyers entering tonight. Semyon Varlamov made 25 saves en route to his 10th win of the season, Carter Hart made 28 saves in a losing effort, and the listless power play wasted a good opportunity late in the game to tie things up. Now 0/6 on the man advantage against the Islanders this season, the 4th-ranked penalty killing unit kept the Flyers from even setting up once. Kyle Palmieri scored the game’s opening goal at the end of the first period, and Mathew Barzal then doubled the lead midway through the second before Nicolas Deslauriers deflected a Tony DeAngelo point shot to cut the deficit in half. It was a valiant effort nevertheless against a staunch defensive team but a tough game to lose.
The Philadelphia Flyers returned from their All-Star break and embarked on the first game of a 4 game homestand against the new-look New York Islanders. They entered the break with a 4-0 shutout victory against the Winnipeg Jets but were without Zack MacEwen and Wade Allison due to injuries they sustained in their overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild the game prior. Allison returned to the lineup and played with new linemates in Nicolas Deslauriers and Patrick Brown. Carter Hart tended the twine tonight looking for his 16th win after an impressive 40 save shutout against the Jets.
As for the Islanders, they were playing their first game in a while as well but they struck gold before All-Star weekend when they traded Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Räty, and a protected first round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for Bo Horvat. Horvat left Vancouver as an All-Star with 31 goals and 54 points in 49 games and found himself stationed on the top line with Josh Bailey and Mathew Barzal for his first game as an Islander. He also signed an 8-year extension that was worth $8.5 million annually. Semyon Varlamov got the start tonight instead of All-Star Ilya Sorokin, looking to improve on his career numbers against the Flyers – 9-3-2 with a .916 SV% and a 2.77 GAA.
On the very first shift of the game, Carter Hart was bumped by Noah Cates as Brock Nelson tried one-timing a shot past the goaltender. He corralled the rebound from behind the net and sent it towards the crease hoping to bank it off of Hart, but fortunately Ivan Provorov was there to save the day and keep the puck from rolling past the red-line. On the next shift, at the 1:14 mark of the game, Kevin Hayes was called for a delay of game penalty. The Flyers kept their penalty killing success going with another strong effort and allowing only one shot on goal that barely troubled Hart.
New York was the hungrier and readier team as they fired 9 shots on goal to the Flyers’ 1 by the first commercial break. The Flyers barely had the puck on their sticks and they were chasing quite a bit. The Islanders must’ve studied the scouting report on Carter Hart because at least 4 of their 9 shots were from bad angles, trying to find a hole to exploit. Fortunately, he had them covered and looked sharp to start the game. With 8:04 remaining in the period, Simon Holmström ripped a shot from the slot off the crossbar with the Flyers collapsing in front of their goaltender.
With the Flyers picking up their game a little after a slow start, Scott Laughton got a little too aggressive and was called for an interference minor with 4:32 remaining in the first period. With 21 seconds left on the penalty, Kyle Palmieri ripped a snap shot past the glove of Hart, off the post, and in after the streaking forward was set up by Josh Bailey for his 7th of the season. As Bailey entered the zone, all 4 Flyers were focused on the puck carrier instead of his wingers, and as he made a quick move on Rasmus Ristolainen, he fed a pass to Palmieri who fired the puck from the faceoff dot for the 1-0 lead.
Kyle Palmieri on the Power Play 😎 pic.twitter.com/SS8nuPpHjY
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 7, 2023
The period ended with the Islanders up 1-0 but it could’ve been a lot worse had Carter Hart not been sharp to start this one. Just moments after Palmieri scored the game’s opening goal, Mathew Barzal was perfectly set up in the slot by Bailey – again – but his one-time shot was shouldered aside by the Flyers goaltender. The Islanders also held a 15-7 shot advantage with the Flyers having had 1 shot on goal in the final 5 minutes.
1:13 into the second period, Owen Tippett’s strong forechecking brought about their first power play of the game after Sebastian Aho was called for a holding minor. The Flyers rolled out with 2 new power play units which could be split by veterans and youngsters. Kevin Hayes, Scott Laughton, James van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny, and Tony DeAngelo comprised the first unit and Morgan Frost, Noah Cates, Owen Tippett, Joel Farabee, and Cam York brought about the second unit. The Flyers created a few chances, they were dangerous in essence, but neither hit the net as they were deflected or broken apart by Islander sticks.
After taking the first 8 shots of the period, the Islanders’ first sustained and pressure-filled shift led to a goal for Mathew Barzal after he deflected a pass from Noah Dobson in the blue paint with Tony DeAngelo trying to box him out. After winning a board battle where they were outnumbered 2 to 4, Barzal got the puck out of the scrum and passed it to Brock Nelson, who got past a pinching Hayes and fed Dobson who was all alone from the point to the slot. Hart came out to aggressively box out Dobson’s shot but he found Barzal streaking towards the net with a perfect feed and Barzal made no mistake for his 13th of the season at the 8:18 mark of the second period.
Goal #13 for #13 pic.twitter.com/ZYgUTHLRkS
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) February 7, 2023
2:21 later, the Flyers cut the deficit in half after Tony DeAngelo’s point shot was deflected in by Nicolas Deslauriers. Nick Seeler – who found himself on a pair with DeAngelo – aggressively pinched from the point to behind the net as he sent a pass around to his partner in DeAngelo. He realized there was a mass of bodies in front of Varlamov and took an innocent shot that was deflected by Deslauriers for his third of the season.
In the Nick of time. #NYIvsPHI | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/2pwXZQpCnn
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 7, 2023
The Islanders quelled the Flyers momentum after Kevin Hayes was called for his second minor of the game, this time a hooking infraction.
The Flyers finished the period strong and had several dangerous scoring chances that included James van RIemsdyk being stopped on an odd-man rush and then followed his own rebound just to be thwarted again. Then Travis Konecny came in on Varlamov on an abbreviated odd-man rush but instead of taking the shot he passed it to Ivan Provorov who tried making a move around a couple white jerseys but couldn’t get the shot off. Konecny corralled the rebound and his pass attempt was deflected by a stick and almost snuck through Varlamov’s guard before the Islanders cleared it off his porch. The Flyers outshot New York by an 11-8 margin in the second period but still trailed, this time by a score of 2-1.
With 12:05 remaining in regulation, Owen Tippett drew his second penalty of the game after Kyle Palmieri was called for a slashing minor that was bugging him quite a bit on the bench. The Islanders entered the game with the 4th-best penalty killing unit and it showed on this occasion as the Flyers couldn’t set up once, failed to enter the zone several times, and essentially wasted away a glorious chance to tie the game against a team they are chasing in the wild card race. Their better chances came after the penalty, when with 9 minutes left on the clock, Tippett, van Riemsdyk, and DeAngelo each had a crack at tying the game but Varlamov kept the door shut as the Flyers were getting closer and closer.
With 2:58 remaining, the Flyers pulled Carter Hart for the extra attacker, but the defence of the Islanders make it very hard for the Flyers to do anything. They weren’t able to record a shot on goal, they were forced to dump and chase several times, never winning those battles either.
With a minute remaining, the Flyers deflected a puck into the stands, disrupting any momentum to enter the offensive zone. They called a timeout shortly after and tried a few more times after the faceoff but they weren’t in sync when they dumped the puck in as they were outnumbered by white jerseys every time.
Varlamov got the victory making 25 saves, Hart did a valiant job in a losing effort making 28 saves, but the Flyers failed to gain ground in a game they needed to win.
The Flyers welcome Connor McDavid and the Oilers to town on Thursday for 2010s Throwback Thursday Night at Wells Fargo Center.