By Steve Kelly
The Flyers stopped the bleeding.
But only time will tell if last night’s victory over the Islanders is a sign of things to come.
Claude Giroux scored at 3:20 of overtime as the Flyers rallied to beat the Islanders 3-2 to end New York’s three-game winning streak. It was Philly’s first road win since Dec. 14 at Colorado, ending a nine-game losing streak (0-7-2) away from home.
Giroux’s 11th goal of the season came on pass from defenseman Shayne Gostibehere from behind the net, giving the Flyers the morale-building victory win after trailing 2-0. Philly was 3-9-3 in its previous 15 since a 10-game winning streak.
“No question we needed a win,” Flyers coach Dave Haksol said. “I don’t think guys were getting too far off center but probably the biggest thing was the outlook we had, coming in and playing focused.”
Wayne Simmonds scored late in the second period to pull the Flyers within one and Ivan Provorov tied it early in the third. Steve Mason finished with 36 saves.
“We were playing well and had a lot of chances and they weren’t going in,” Giroux said. “When Wayne got that goal, it was a relief on the bench. I never saw such a celebration for a first goal.”
Nick Leddy and Alan Quine scored for New York, and Thomas Greiss stopped 44 shots.
Before Giroux’s winner, Greiss denied Provorov on a point-blank attempt. Mason matched that save, denying Islanders captain Tavares on a breakaway after Jason Chimera fed him the puck.
The Islanders had two power-play chances midway through the third period without converting.
“We seemed sluggish and our execution wasn’t as good as it was our last two games,” said Tavares, who leads the Islanders with 19 goals and 36 points but was held off the scoresheet. “Today wasn’t our best. We’ll rest up and get ready for a tough couple of games heading into the All-Star break.”
The Flyers had their chance with the man advantage when Cal Clutterbuck was called for tripping with 2:53 left but also failed to score. The Flyers held a 42-34 shots advantage heading into overtime.
Leddy opened the scoring with 6:35 to go in the first period, snaring a loose puck that had squirted free after a scramble in front of the Flyers net and firing the puck over a fallen Mason.
Tavares rushed in on Mason but neither he nor linemates Josh Bailey or Anders Lee could beat Mason before the puck found its way out to Leddy, who scored his eighth.
The Flyers outshot the Islanders 15-8 in the first but Greiss continued his strong play, stopping all Flyers attempts.
The Islanders’ starting goalie since Jaroslav Halak was sent to AHL Bridgeport three weeks ago, Greiss continued his stellar play in the second with another 18 saves.
Quine made it 2-0 at 4:47 of the second, flipping the puck over Mason for his fourth goal of the season.
Simmonds finally broke through for the Flyers with 5:50 left in the second period to narrow the deficit to 2-1. The goal ended Greiss’ shutout streak at 154:10 following shutout wins at Boston last Monday and at home against Dallas last Thursday night.
Simmonds’ goal was his team-leading 19th this season.
“We made bounces go our way,” said Simmonds. “As long as you’re working hard, generally things catch up with you.”
Provorov tied it at 1:47 of the third on a dazzling solo effort around the Islanders’ defense before beating Greiss for his fourth.
With both teams playing the second game of weekend back-to-backs, the Islanders had more jump early. But the Flyers seemed to find their legs once Simmonds scored late in the second and into the third period.
New York had won two straight games since Doug Weight replaced Jack Capuano as coach last Tuesday. They beat Dallas 3-0 on Thursday and stopped the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 on Saturday. They also won 3-0 at Boston last Monday in Capuano’s last game.
The Islanders host Columbus and Montreal before next weekend’s four-day break. After hosting Washington on Jan. 31, they will play 22 of their remaining 34 games on the road. The Islanders played three games the last four days following Capuano’s departure after six-plus years behind their bench.
“They battled,” Weight said. “We looked a little tired but still played well in the third. Some games you don’t have it as much as other ones.”
Clutterbuck returned after three-game absence with an undisclosed injury while defenseman Johnny Boychuk also returned after missing two games. Forward Andrew Laddmissed his fourth straight game with an upper body injury.