John Tavares fueled the Islanders’ surprising run to the playoffs.
He’d like to help them get one more win before the regular season ends.
Not even Tavares’ 28th goal of the season was enough in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday.
With playoff positioning still up for grabs, the Islanders dropped to eighth in the Eastern Conference after overtime wins by the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.
The Islanders clinched an Eastern Conference playoff spot in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday night.
That makes the Islanders winless since they clinched their first playoff berth in six seasons.
”We’re not going to blow it up into a big story,” defenseman Travis Hamonic said. ”It’s frustrating. Look at our last 15 or 20 games or so, I think we’ve done a lot of really good things. So heading into the playoffs, we’ve got one more big game.”
The Islanders wrap their season-ending five-game road trip Friday at Buffalo. New York failed to earn a point for the first time in 12 games.
”We came out flat again,” forward Colin McDonald said. ”It’s just not good enough. We need to be better. It really doesn’t matter that we clinched the playoffs. It doesn’t really mean anything. We want to be going into the playoffs playing good hockey, so we have one game left to kind of correct it and head into the playoffs with a good feeling.”
At least they’re in the postseason.
Oliver Lauridsen and Danny Briere scored goals for the Flyers, who are heading for the NHL draft lottery.
Lauridsen scored his second career NHL goal on a slap shot high above the circle late in the third period to lift the Flyers to a win in their home finale. They missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
As always, the Flyers had expectations of a deep playoff run. But injuries that decimated the defense and overall inconsistent play doomed the team in the lockout-shortened season.
This summer is shaping up to be a big offseason of change for the Flyers. The team has not won the Stanley Cup since 1975.
Coach Peter Laviolette is on the hot season, and his return for a fifth season is in doubt. With a hefty $6.5 million salary cap hit and declining production, Briere knows the Flyers could use one of their amnesty buyouts on him.
One of the top playoff performers in franchise history, Briere was limited this season because of a broken wrist and concussion. His first goal in 20 games was met with a loud ovation from fans in what could have been his final one at home.
With his two sons by his side in the locker room, Briere said his only focus was on finishing the season, not his contract.
”It wouldn’t be right for me to start commenting on that at this point,” he said. ”I have a job to do. I have one more game to play. Once the season is over we will see, but in my mind, I am coming back next year. I have a contract and I hope to be back. That’s all I can say.”
The Flyers (22-22-3) finish the season Saturday at Ottawa. Should the Flyers beat the Senators, they’d finish on a four-game winning streak.
Not all the Flyers would be impressed.
”What’s the point? There’s no difference,” goalie Ilya Bryzgalov said. ”We are not going to make the playoffs. It doesn’t matter whether you’re two games below or two games above .500. It’s pointless. Of course, it’s nice to win the games, but at the end of the day it doesn’t change anything.”
Brayden Schenn set up Briere’s sixth goal of the season with a precision pass in the crease straight through defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky’s legs. Briere easily got the puck past Kevin Poulin.
Tavares tied the game at 1-all just 1:37 into the second period on a tip-in for his 28th goal of the season. He was third in the NHL in goals entering Thursday night.
Lauridsen put the Flyers ahead with a hard shot that whipped over Poulin’s stick side shoulder.
Poulin made 28 saves.
”I think it was just a relief that we clinched a playoff position,” he said. ”Now we just have to put ourselves forward tomorrow.”
Notes: The Flyers selected their individual award winners: Jakub Voracek was picked the team MVP and most improved; Kimmo Timonen, top defenseman; Scott Harntell, class and character; Zac Rinaldo, most heart; Claude Giroux, most stars of the game. … The Islanders failed to outshoot a team for the first time in 11 games.