UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Flyers needed an attitude adjustment.
They needed to regain their sense of competitiveness, and they needed to keep it through 60 minutes. They needed their captain to rise to the occasion and play like a leader.
And they needed to prove that they meant it when they claimed they were capable of playing better than they have been.
With Claude Giroux at the helm and another strong performance from Ilya Bryzgalov, who registered his 30th career NHL shutout, the Flyers did just that, departing the Nassau Coliseum after a 7-0 thrashing of the New York Islanders.
It was the complete-game win they desperately needed.
Just two days ago, the Flyers’ compete level was all but nonexistent. After their listless loss to the Montreal Canadiens, their frustration was palpable; they seemed to be simply going through the motions. Every step forward had been followed by at least two steps back.
But Sunday’s day of rest on Long Island must have given the Flyers what they needed. They dominated in all aspects of the game, from the first puck drop to the final buzzer – literally. It took just 26 seconds for Giroux to snap his seven-game scoreless streak and give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Giroux’s line, with Matt Read and Jakub Voracek – who had his first-ever four-point game – set a tone the rest of the team followed. Struggles to find chemistry led coach Peter Laviolette to shuffle up the Flyers’ lines once more, but this time, the line experiments worked. Giroux’s line even combined for an impressive 10 points.
Another bright spot, once again, was the team’s penalty kill. Heading into Monday’s matinee, the Flyers had killed off all 16 penalties they’d taken over their past five games. Against the Islanders, they competently killed off a full two-minute two-man advantage midway through the first period, on their way to four more perfect kills.
And it was once again the new first line that added to the Flyers’ lead in the second period. Read, this time just 15 seconds in, beat Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov on a rebound from Giroux. Not long after Wayne Simmonds fought Isles tough guy Matt Martin to a draw, the Flyers turned a scary 2-on-1 on Bryzgalov the other direction, when Schenn scored – on the power play, for good measure.
Then the captain himself scored again to give the Flyers a commanding 4-0 lead over the Islanders they carried into the second intermission.
There’s been plenty to gripe about concerning the Flyers in recent weeks. Their power play has been lukewarm at best. Turnovers have been a concern. Even a lack energy has been a consistency, whether or not they’d entered a game well rested.
But it was as if an entirely different team took the ice Monday afternoon. Even Zac Rinaldo and Harry Zolnierczyk made their way to the scoresheet, when a speedy Harry Z nicely set up Rinaldo for his first goal of the season. After that, Danny Briere scored two in a row: First on the power play, and then in the closing minutes to bring the score to 7-0.
Scott Hartnell was placed on long-term injured reserve, freeing up cap space for the roster moves the team made over the weekend. … The Flyers’ two quick goals were their third and fourth this season scored in the first minute of a period.