Michael Raffl celebrates his go-ahead goal in the third period of the Flyers' 6-4 win over the Islanders on Saturday. (AP)
Trailing games in the third period is no longer an issue for the Flyers.
Late deficits have become the norm over the past few weeks, but what really matters is the Flyers just keep finding ways to come away with victories.
In their latest comeback effort, the Flyers dispatched the New York Islanders 6-4 at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday (see Instant Replay). It was the ninth time this season that they rallied for victory after trailing at some point in the third period. That ties a franchise record.
“You don’t want to be there all the time,” Andrej Meszaros said of trailing late. “We’ve been there quite a bit the last few games. You don’t want to play like that. We knew that and we knew didn’t have a good first two periods.”
Meszaros wasn’t lying. The Flyers (25-19-5) were not sharp in the first two periods and were lucky to enter the third trailing by only one goal.
That wasn’t from a lack of effort from Meszaros, however. The Flyers’ defenseman continued his red-hot offensive play by registering two goals in the first frame to erase a 2-0 Islanders (19-24-7) lead.
“We can’t keep shooting ourselves in the foot like that,” Claude Giroux said. “We need to do a better job of playing a full 60 minutes. We made a lot of mistakes out there.”
Adam Hall gave the Flyers a brief 3-2 lead in the second period after he deflected a Mark Streit shot from the point past Islanders netminder Kevin Poulin, but then things began to unravel a bit.
The Flyers got sloppy in front of goalie Steve Mason and the Islanders capitalized, scoring two goals in the final 10 minutes of the second. Mason, who signed a three-year extension earlier on Saturday (see story), was pulled in favor of backup Ray Emery after the Isles’ fourth goal of the game.
“I don’t think it was his fault on those goals,” Meszaros said. “It was Coach's (Craig Berube) decision [to pull Mason]. I think he played pretty good. We didn’t help him much the first two periods and then Razor (Emery) came in. We had a great third period. We’re not going to do that all the time. We know that we have to bear down defensively.”
Jakub Voracek agreed with Meszaros’ assessment and wouldn’t blame Mason, who allowed four goals on 24 shots, for any of the Islanders’ markers.
“The goals, it’s hard to stop any of them,” Voracek said. “One off the post, second tipped, third was a goal from the goal crease. It’s hard to stop those goals.”
The Flyers looked like a completely different team at the start of the third period. They were hungry and put constant pressure on the Isles’ defense.
Voracek eventually tied the game at 4-4 after he buried a brilliant behind-the-back pass from Giroux.
“I think we just kept it simple,” Giroux said of the Flyers’ third period. “When we try to do too much is when we get in trouble, it’s when we get out of position. … When we start playing our game, as a system, is when we are a dangerous team.”
Giroux would collect another dazzling assist on Michael Raffl’s game-winner with less than five minutes left to play.
“I don’t know how he saw me, but he put it right on the blade and it went in,” Raffl said.
It was an important win for the Flyers. The Olympic break is fast approaching and the NHL playoffs won’t be far behind.
Taking care of divisional opponents is a must moving forward and the Flyers are well aware of the standings.
“It’s good to know we can do comebacks,” Giroux said. “It’s a big win for us, the Islanders are just right there. For them to get a win tonight would’ve got them that much closer and a lot of teams won tonight, too.
“We need to keep working. Every game is the most important game of the season, especially when we play against our division. We need to do a better job.”