NHL Game Summary - Philadelphia at NY Islanders
(Tuesday, April 18th)
Final Score: Philadelphia 4, NY Islanders 1
Uniondale, NY (Sports Network) - Jeff Carter snapped a tie with a breakaway goal midway through the third period and Robert Esche made 31 saves, as the Philadelphia Flyers moved to the brink of the Atlantic Division title with a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. However, Philadelphia then watched as New Jersey captured the division crown after the Devils overcame a three-goal deficit for a 4-3 win at Montreal.
R.J. Umberger tallied his 20th goal for the Flyers, who ended with 101 points along with the Devils. New Jersey, though, clinched the division due to one more win and left the Flyers as the fifth seed with a first-round matchup against the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference playoffs, starting Saturday night at HSBC Arena.
Simon Gagne and Michal Handzus added empty-net goals in the victory for the Flyers on the final night of the regular season in the NHL.
Bruno Gervais scored the only goal for the Islanders, while Garth Snow allowed two goals on 24 shots in the losing effort.
Philadelphia and New Jersey are very familiar with regards to battling for the Atlantic Division crown. Every season since the lockout-shortened campaign of 1994-95, these two clubs have split it. New Jersey won the title in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2003. The Flyers captured the division crown in 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002 and 2004.
The New York Rangers, who entered Tuesday's action one point ahead of both the Flyers and Devils, dropped to the sixth seed after a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. New Jersey, with home-ice advantage, will square off against the Rangers.
The only goal of the opening period gave the Islanders the lead after 20 minutes of play. After Esche made a nice save at the right post, Robert Nilsson corralled the puck along the rear boards and sent a pass out to the right circle, where Gervais' one-timer beat a screened Esche at the 18:58 mark.
Despite the huge implications, Philadelphia played mostly uninspired hockey throughout most of the second period and failed to score. The Flyers had one power play in the frame, but only registered one shot on goal.
In the final minutes of the period, Esche made a pad save on a breakaway by Jason Blake to keep the Flyers deficit at one, and the momentum gained by the visitors from the timely save carried over.
One minute into the third period, Umberger's 20th goal knotted the contest. The puck was behind the New York net and Umberger fought for control along the rear boards. The disc eventually squirted free, and Umberger skated out to the right side and beat Snow from a sharp angle below the circle.
The Flyers pressed heavily over the next 10 minutes. Philadelphia generated several odd-man rushes and good looks from the point with traffic in front, but the score remained deadlocked until Carter gave the Flyers the lead for good. He picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone along the right boards and hustled his way in on a breakaway before sliding a backhander home at the 11:38 mark.
With 3:30 remaining in regulation, Blake gained his second breakaway of the game. He tried to slip a backhander past Esche , but the save was made and Blake crashed into the net, knocking it off its moorings.
Snow was then pulled with just over a minute to play, but both Gagne and Handzus scored into the open cage to seal the victory. The Flyers went into their locker room in first place, but watched as the Devils sealed the division title with a comeback victory.
Flyers center Peter Forsberg, who sat out Sunday's loss with his ongoing groin problems, played in this one...New York failed to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2001...The Flyers captured the season series, 6-2...The Flyers ended 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Isles ended scoreless on six chances with the extra skater...The Flyers finished the regular season with a 45-26-11 mark, while the Islanders ended 36-40-6.
04/19 01:40:46 ET