PHILADELPHIA (AP) After a rocky start to the season and a coaching change, the streaking New York Islanders are thrilled to be back in the playoff picture.
Jason Chimera scored the go-ahead goal early in the second period and Thomas Greiss made 34 saves to lead New York to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
Anders Lee and Casey Cizikas also scored for the Islanders, who have won nine of 13 to move closer to a postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.
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”It’s great to be in the area and mentioned with the (potential playoff) teams and not be on the bottom of the list that’s not showing,” Islanders interim coach Doug Weight said. ”We dug a big hole in the first 2 1/2 months. That’s over. Now it’s got to be playoff time for us every game.”
Wayne Simmonds scored for Philadelphia, which lost its third straight. The Flyers avoided getting shut out in three consecutive regular-season games for the first time in the franchise’s 50-year history.
”We’ll stick together and get back to work,” coach Dave Hakstol said. ”That’s how it is, especially after a tough night. We’re all in it together.”
Boston, a 6-3 winner over San Jose on Thursday, bumped Philadelphia out of the second-wild card slot. The Flyers are now a point behind the Bruins, while the Islanders sit two behind Boston but with three games in hand on Philadelphia and four on the Bruins.
”We looked at the standings (Wednesday) and saw there were only two teams we had to jump to be in a (playoff) spot,” Islanders captain John Tavares said. ”Each game is crucial, especially in our division, and we’re just trying to climb the ladder.”
Chimera put the Islanders ahead 2:13 into the second period when he beat Steve Mason after getting in alone on the Flyers’ goalie. Andrew Ladd set up the goal by lifting a pass over defenseman Radko Gudas’ stick and right onto the tape for Chimera, whose backhand went high over Mason’s blocker for a 2-1 New York lead.
”It was bouncing a little bit, and I just tried to chip it over his pad,” Chimera said. ”Sometimes when the puck is rolling, just chip it and hope for the best. It worked out.”
Cizikas made it a two-goal advantage 1:21 into the third. After Mark Streit’s turnover, Cizikas entered the Flyers zone and fanned on a shot attempt before wheeling around and scoring on a wrist shot that went under the pads of a surprised Mason. Philadelphia fans booed Mason loudly after the goal.
The Islanders improved to 7-1-2 under Weight, who took over when Jack Capuano was fired Jan. 17.
”Slowly we’ve inched our way back in it,” Weight said. ”We’ve put ourselves into the conversation. We have a lot of work to do.”
Mason, playing in his first game since a 5-1 loss at Carolina on Jan. 31, made 27 saves.
The Flyers ended their scoreless streak at 134 minutes, 56 seconds, when Simmonds scored on the rebound of Shayne Gostisbehere’s shot for a power-play goal with 7:53 remaining in the first period to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. The goal was confirmed after a video review.
Philadelphia had been 1 for 9 on the power play over the last three games, all of which a healthy Gostisbehere watched from the press box. The second-year defenseman, who finished second in last season’s Rookie of the Year voting, was benched due to his defensive deficiencies.
After Streit was whistled for tripping, the Islanders scored their own power-play goal to tie the game at 1 with 3:20 left in the period when Lee deflected in Tavares’ wrist shot.
NOTES: Ryan Strome extended his point streak to five games with his first-period assist. He has two goals and five assists during that stretch. … The Flyers lead the four-game season series 2-1. Philadelphia skated to a 3-2 shootout victory on Nov. 3 and a 3-2 overtime win on Jan. 22. The teams will wrap up the season series March 30 in Philadelphia. … Flyers rookie forward Travis Konecny (lower body) sat out the first game of what is expected to be a four-to-six-week absence after getting hurt in Monday’s 2-0 loss to St. Louis. … Cal Clutterbuck (lower body) missed his third straight game for the Islanders. Travis Hamonic (knee) has been out since Jan. 8.
Islanders: At the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.
Flyers: Conclude a five-game homestand against San Jose on Saturday afternoon.
This story has been corrected to update with official scoring changes to save totals for Greiss and Mason, first goal for Islanders credited to Lee.