In dire need of a scoring outburst, the Philadelphia Flyers turned to a player with plenty of experience in that department.
Vinny Lecavalier scored three goals in Philadelphia’s biggest breakout game of the young season, and Steve Mason made 26 saves to lift the Flyers to a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
The Flyers (3-7) hadn’t scored more than two goals in any of their first nine games. One more and they would have become the first NHL team to have a season-opening run of 10 games without three goals since the 1940 New York Americans.
Now Philadelphia has won two straight since a franchise-worst 1-7 start. The win gave Lecavalier, who played 14 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning before joining the Flyers this summer, a chance to savor his seventh career three-goal performance.
”This was a really good game for me and for the team,” said the 33-year-old Lecavalier, whose previous hat trick was March 11, 2008, also against the Islanders. ”Overall, tonight is a good confidence boost for everybody. It feels really good to score more than two goals.”
Jakub Voracek and Matt Read also scored, and former Islanders captain Mark Streit added two assists as the Flyers won their first road game.
Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen had goals, and Kevin Poulin made 27 saves for the Islanders, who couldn’t build on a come-from-behind win at Pittsburgh on Friday.
Lecavalier opened the scoring with a power-play goal 4:30 in. The center, who signed with the Flyers after the Lightning bought out his contract, scored his second of the season on a slap shot from the top of the right circle.
Streit, returning to Long Island for the first time since joining the Flyers, passed the puck to Lecavalier from the point.
”Today was an emotional day for me,” said Streit, who spent five seasons with the Islanders and served as captain for the final two. ”This was special, and I’m happy we played smart hockey.”
Voracek made it 2-0 a minute later, but Okposo got the Islanders back within a goal at 10:16.
Lecavalier increased the lead to 3-1 with his second of the game at 18:13. Streit also assisted as did rookie left wing Michael Raffl, who earned his first NHL point.
”It’s hard to find the words, it feels like a dream” said the 24-year-old Raffl, a native of Austria.
Lecavalier, who has 387 career NHL goals, completed the hat trick with his fourth goal of the season at 9:53 of the third. Nielsen’s short-handed goal midway through the second had cut New York’s deficit to 3-2.
Read added an empty-net goal with 1:32 remaining to seal the Flyers’ first road win of the season.
Poulin made just his second start of the season for the Islanders (4-4-3). His only other outing in place of No. 1 goalie Evgeni Nabokov was a 3-2 loss at Chicago on Oct. 11.
The Islanders, who next play the rival New York Rangers at home on Tuesday, haven’t won consecutive games this season. Defenseman Andrew MacDonald spoke of the team’s inability to be consistent.
”We have to find a level of consistency every shift. It’s not always easy,” he said. ”This loss is a lesson for everyone. It’s not going to be there every night. But we have to work hard at winning battles. That will make us successful.”
The Flyers are 16-3 at Nassau Coliseum since the 2007-08 season and 30-7-1-2 in their last 40 games there.
Islanders captain John Tavares assisted on Okposo’s goal to extend his point streak to 10 games. The only game he has been kept off the score sheet was the season opener at New Jersey on Oct. 4.
Nielsen’s goal at 10:30 of the second was his seventh of the season and gave him a four-game goal streak. He leads the Islanders with 15 points.
NOTES: Flyers forward Scott Hartnell returned after missing four games with a rib injury. … The Islanders were without defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) for the third straight game. … Forward Michael Grabner returned for New York after a two-game suspension for a hit on Carolina’s Nathan Gerbe. … Former Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro, whose contract was bought out by New York, signed a tryout contract with the AHL Charlotte Checkers.