Okposo, Halak lift Islanders past Flyers in shootout
PHILADELPHIA (AP) The streaking Islanders weren't at their best and they still managed to pull out a victory.
Kyle Okposo had the only goal of the shootout, Frans Nielsen scored twice in regulation and the New York Islanders beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 Tuesday night.
Jaroslav Halak made 43 saves through overtime and stopped all three Flyers attempts in the shootout, and Brock Nelson also scored to help the Islanders win for the sixth time in eight games (6-0-2).
''It's obviously a big two points for us, but we've got to play better,'' Halak said.
Ryan White, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Claude Giroux scored for Philadelphia, which had 46 shots – its second-highest total of the season. Steve Mason gave up three goals on 10 shots before he was replaced early in the second period, and Michal Neuvirth had 16 saves.
The Flyers were pleased with everything except the final result.
''We deserved better tonight,'' coach Dave Hakstol said. ''Everybody was moving, jumping, playing with tenacity. It's a good formula.''
Okposo, New York's second skater in the shootout, using a stellar move to pull the puck onto his forehand before roofing it over Neuvirth.
''We're going to have to be better than that to win every night in this league, and we know that,'' Okposo said.
New York's point streak of eight straight games is its best since going 8-0-3 in April 2013.
''We just battled through it; we found a way,'' Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. ''When you're in close games like this, you've got to find a way. We've been on the other side of that too, so it's a good two points.''
Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Evgeny Medvedev all failed to convert against Halak in the shootout.
Nielsen's second goal of the game, 1:14 into the second period put New York ahead 3-1 and chased Mason. Nielsen scored on a wrist shot from the slot that went through defenseman Michael Del Zotto's legs and got past Mason.
Hakstol inserted Neuvirth in hopes of producing a spark, and it worked.
''The group responded in a good way,'' Hakstol said. ''(Neuvirth) came in and did his job in that situation.''
White's goal from close range 3 minutes later pulled Philadelphia to 3-2. Halak saved Scott Laughton's initial shot, but R.J. Umberger got the rebound and passed in front of the crease to White, who lifted it over Halak.
The Flyers appeared to tie the game on the power play with 6:07 left in the second, but the goal was overturned after a lengthy replay review determined that Simmonds used a distinct kicking motion to get the puck past Halak.
''I didn't kick it,'' Simmonds said. ''I put my foot down.''
Philadelphia eventually did tie it on Giroux's slap shot that deflected off Nick Leddy 2:02 into the third period.
''From start to finish, I thought we were the better team,'' Simmonds said. ''Sometimes that happens.''
Both teams had chances to win it in regulation. Halak stopped Bellemare's rebound attempt with an outstanding glove save with 9:17 left, and Neuvirth used his glove to deny Okposo's wrist shot from right of goal.
NOTES: This was the second of five meetings between the clubs, who next will meet Jan. 9 in Philadelphia. New York won the first game 3-1 at home on Nov. 25. New York outshot Philadelphia 36-18 in that game. … Flyers D Radko Gudas served the final game of a three-game suspension for an illegal hit last week against Ottawa. … Flyers D Luke Schenn (lower body) missed the first game of what is expected to be a two-week absence. He was replaced by Andrew MacDonald, who was called up from Lehigh Valley of the AHL.
- Brock Nelson
- Claude Giroux
- Frans Nielsen
- Jaroslav Halak
- Kyle Okposo
- Michal Neuvirth
- New York Islanders
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
- Steve Mason