NEW YORK (AP) The New York Islanders distaste for the Philadelphia Flyers clearly came with them during their move to Brooklyn. Seeing their nemesis Wednesday night brought out some needed emotion.
“We needed a good, hard, physical game like that,” Casey Cizikas said after the Islanders beat the Flyers 3-1 in a rough-and-tumble affair.
“Those games are fun. When they get testy like that, when they get physical like that, that’s what makes the game of hockey so much fun. I think we thrived off of that.”
Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves and Kyle Okposo put the Islanders ahead early in the second period. Cizikas and Frans Nielsen also scored and the Islanders improved to 11-8-3 by snapping a two-game losing streak.
Steve Mason made 33 saves and Claude Giroux scored the Flyers’ lone goal.
Philadelphia has lost four of five and fell to 7-10-5.
“We’re just inconsistent. It’s the same story every game. We need to find a way to be consistent the whole game,” Giroux said. “I’m not too sure what to say. It’s the same story every game.”
The first of five meetings this season between Philadelphia and New York was a chippy one. There were post-whistle scrums seemingly after every whistle, and tempers boiled over in the second period when Nick Leddy fought Giroux.
Leddy had earned the Flyers’ ire in the first period after boarding Michael Raffl face first into the boards, but Giroux said his rationale for fighting was only partially inspired by wanting to get even for his teammate.
“The second period we were flat,” Giroux said. “Anytime you have a chance to change the momentum, you do it.”
Seven minutes after the Leddy-Giroux fight, Matt Martin squared off with Wayne Simmonds.
According to hockeyfights.com, New York had three fights this season prior to Wednesday night, and the Flyers had eight.
“It was two teams battling hard,” John Tavares said. “We’re going to have a lot of those games coming up.”
New York took a 2-1 lead 5:14 into the second period on Okposo’s fifth of the season. Tavares won an offensive-zone faceoff to begin the sequence, and Okposo gained possession of the puck along the wall, then curled toward the net before flipping a harmless-looking shot that appeared to ricochet off Nick Schultz and over Mason.
“There’s no room for error,” said Mason, adding that the puck “bounced off the side of the net” for the game-winning goal.
The teams traded goals in the first period and the long-time rivals went into the first intermission tied 1-1. Giroux opened the scoring with a power-play goal from the left circle 3:59 into the game, but Cizikas tied it with a short-handed goal with 58 seconds left in the period. It New York’s third short-handed tally this season.
New York’s penalty kill came into the game ranked 11th in the NHL, while Philadelphia’s power play was 24th.
“We have to look at everything,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said when asked if his team’s scheme needed to be modified in order to generate more offense. “(We) try to do that every day. So we have to look at everything.”
The Islanders outshot Philadelphia 36-18. New York had a 65-48 advantage in total shots.
“It was one of our better games defensively,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “We didn’t give them too much.”
NOTES: This game marked Colin McDonald’s season debut. The Flyers called up the ex-Islander from AHL Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. He had played in four games this season with the Phantoms, where he had two assists. … Philadelphia scratched Vincent Lecavalier, Evgeny Medvedev and Sam Gagner. Lecavalier has been scratched the last six games. The 35-year-old is in the third year of a five-year, $22.5 million contract. He has one assist in seven games this season. … New York scratched Adam Pelech and Taylor Beck. … The teams came into the match having split the last 16 matches. The Islanders were 8-8-0 while the Flyers were 8-3-5. … The announced attendance was 13,027.