The Flyers failed to complete the season sweep of the Islanders, losing 4-3 in a shootout Monday. (USA Today Images)
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- There are some things in hockey that are not supposed to happen when you are within reach of a comfortable road victory.
Like blowing a two-goal lead in the third period.
Or taking three penalties that period.
Or nine overall in a game.
Which would explain how the Flyers wasted a terrific effort from goalie Ray Emery on Martin Luther King Day and lost, 4-3, to the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum in a shootout (see Instant Replay).
The Flyers got a point but they could have had two, which would have moved them back into second place in the Metropolitan Division ahead of the Rangers.
They led 3-1 when the third period started.
“Penalties, penalties, the whole game,” a subdued coach Craig Berube said after the loss.
Kyle Okposo won it in the shootout.
Steve Downie, who declined to talk after the game, took two of those penalties -- one a roughing call and the other a holding call in which his entire line was gassed after being caught on the ice too long.
In between, Adam Hall had a hooking call. The Isles scored twice. Their first goal came after the power play expired on Hall’s penalty but as team captain Claude Giroux said, it was for all intents and purposes, a power-play goal.
The second goal from Okposo tied it at 3-3. That was Downie’s second trip to the box.
“They got caught out there,” Berube said. “We got caught a few times [that period] and guys got gassed.
“I don’t think we made very good plays coming out of our end and guys turned the puck over a few times. We ended up getting caught in there for longer periods of time.”
As dramatic as the Flyers' turnaround has been since Berube took over, he has continually mentioned one aspect of play that his staff can’t seem to get a handle on: penalties.
The Flyers went into the game as the most penalized team in hockey with 781 minutes.
“You got to move your feet and when you do that, you are on the puck more,” Giroux said. “You got possession of the puck. When you’re late, you get your stick in there and you get penalties.”
Breakouts were an issue in the third period with the Flyers getting trapped in their own end, turning it over and extending themselves on shifts.
It’s a reason why they were also outshot, 17-3, that period as Emery was under siege. In essence, Emery’s effort was wasted.
You might also say they wasted two goals from Matt Read, who now has 15 points in 14 career games against the Islanders.
“Razor played really well and kept us in the game,” Read said. “Going into the third period with a 3-1 lead, it shouldn’t be like that.
“They had a couple of opportunities, breakaways and he stood on his head. It’s unfortunate we didn’t win for him.”
Emery’s save of the game actually came late in the second period during a Flyers power play. Michael Grabner had a clean breakaway but Emery denied him with a glove stab.
“He stood on his head, he made a lot of good saves,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We got a point, so it wasn’t a wasted effort.”
Read said one thing mattered most.
“You’re not going to win by playing in the box,” he said. “How many did we have in the third? Two or three? I think they had [one] power-play goal.
“It’s something we’ve struggled with lately, letting teams get back in the game or get momentum in a game. It’s a matter of not moving our feet and taking stupid penalties. We have to learn from this.”
Several Flyers mentioned the team should have been more offensive in the third period.
“They came out hard [in the third] and we should have played a little more with the puck,” Simmonds said. “We were throwing it away too easily.”