Before things turned ugly, the Philadelphia Flyers were having quite an impressive night.
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In a game that saw many punches thrown, especially during a rough third period, Jeff Carter and Chris Pronger both scored two goals, backing a strong goaltending performance by Sergei Bobrovsky, and the Flyers beat the New York Islanders 6-1 on Saturday night.
Kimmo Timonen and Andreas Nodl also scored for the Flyers, who have won three straight since a lackluster 2-1 loss to Columbus on Oct. 25 that angered the players. The slumping Islanders dropped their fourth in a row after a three-game winning streak.
For a stretch, the game turned into a fight club, with the teams combining for 120 penalty minutes. The Islanders received the bulk of the time in the penalty box, accounting for 73 minutes.
”When you get embarrassed like that, there’s lots of frustration,” said Danny Briere, who was hit with 17 of the Flyers’ 47 penalty minutes. ”They didn’t like that and had to respond some way, somehow. They did it with their fists.”
Philadelphia has bullied the Islanders during the past three seasons, and continued that trend in their first meeting of this season. The Flyers have won 15 of 16 from New York, including 11 straight at home. The Islanders haven’t won in Philadelphia since April 7, 2007.
In front of many fans dressed in orange-and-black Halloween costumes, Timonen gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead 2:36 in. Scott Hartnell angled a pass from the side of the net to Timonen, who fired in a shot off of goalie Rick DiPietro’s stick.
Carter made it 2-0 with 2:41 left in the first period, deflecting Claude Giroux’s pass between DiPietro’s pads. Carter’s second goal early in the second period gave him five this season, one behind team-leading Briere. Carter led the Flyers with 33 goals last season.
Carter nearly had a hat trick, but DiPietro deflected away his attempt.
Pronger’s first two goals of the season both came on one-timers off smooth passes from Timonen. The hard drives both sailed high and over DiPietro’s shoulders. The veteran defenseman posted his 14th career two-goal game, and his seven shots were his most in one game with the Flyers.
Between his goals, Pronger was called for hooking Frans Nielsen on a breakaway, resulting in a penalty shot. Nielsen skated in, transferred the puck to his backhand and flipped it over Bobrovsky’s left shoulder. It was the first time in Flyers history that a shutout bid was denied by a penalty-shot goal.
Not allowing that to lead to any momentum for the Islanders, Andreas Nodl beat DiPietro after a centering pass from the left circle by James van Riemsdyk.
Tempers flared with one minute left in the game, and DiPietro, Nielsen, Briere and Dan Carcillo scuffled in a flurry of activity. Order was eventually restored, and 37 minutes of penalties were handed out.
The spark for the game’s final melee appeared to result from Briere’s crosscheck against Nielsen, and those two eventually went after each other. DiPietro shoved Briere as he skated by the Islanders net, and Dan Carcillo headed over to help Briere.
Angry and looking for a fight, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound DiPietro ended up being restrained by the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Pronger, which wasn’t in his plan.
”(Pronger) didn’t want me going after Briere,” DiPietro said. ”I was just looking for somebody except him, to be honest.”
DiPietro said that the Islanders are frustrated.
”Until you get a chance to get back on the ice and redeem yourself, it eats at you,” DiPietro said. ”There’s no time to rest. You’ve got to expect some peaks and valleys, but we’ve got to get back to winning games.”
Amid the highly charged play of both teams, which resulted in many stoppages, the 22-year-old Bobrovsky (5-2) remained focused in his seventh NHL game. He stopped 30 shots.
”It’s hard to stay focused in such a long game and maintain concentration when the game continues for so long,” he said, adding that he didn’t want to fight anyone. ”In the end, you just play.”