NEW YORK — The Islanders wanted to play spoilers on Tuesday night, and they did just that.
Despite allowing a three-goal lead to disappear in the third period, the Islanders defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 thanks to a breakaway goal from Mathew Barzal with 6:28 left in regulation. The Islanders win moved their record to 18-18-4 and kept the Flyers from clinching a playoff berth on Tuesday night.
The game-winning goal came 28 seconds after the Flyers tied the game at four. Jordan Eberle flung the puck up to Anthony Beauvillier, who was rushing up the ice. Barzal went flying past Jori Lehtera, took the pass from Beauvillier and backhanded the puck past Petr Mrazek.
“(Barzal) can blow by guys,” Islanders head coach Doug Weight said. “He’s got the ability to skate and I think he caught Lehtera flat-footed a little bit. The great thing about familiarity, I think playing with each other Beau knew if he could just get that zone he’d give him a chance to catch up and blow by the guy.
“It was a great play all around and a great finish.”
Tuesday’s Metro Division matchup was the Islanders penultimate home game of the season and their final game against a team vying for a playoff spot. The Islanders were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week when they lost to the Florida Panthers, but their chances of making the playoffs had disappeared long before that.
However, the Islanders played an inspired game against the Flyers on fan appreciation night. Weight called the first two periods some of the best they’ve played all season and the Islanders held Philadelphia to 16 shots through the first 40 minutes.
New York outshot the Flyers in the second period alone 17-6.
It was the third period the Islanders ran into some trouble. Ahead 4-1, the Flyers scored three unanswered goals to pull even with the Islanders.
Nolan Patrick scored the first of two goals at 4:07 of the third period. It was a great diving effort by Patrick that pushed the puck past Thomas Greiss with the Flyers on the power play.
Patrick scored again on the man-advantage nearly four minutes later with a deflection from in front of the net. Claude Giroux scored from inside the faceoff circle to tie the game at 13:04.
“We knew they were going to come out guns a blazing in the third and see what they could get out of it,” Weight said. “It was unfortunate that we gave them a couple good looks on the (power play) and I thought Thomas (Greiss) was good in net.”
The final meeting of the season between the Flyers and Islanders was far from a friendly one. A frustrated Flyers and Islanders team traded barbs with one another during the course of the game and a large scrum broke out after the final buzzer sounded.
“I just think it’s just battling all game long,” John Tavares said. “They’re fighting to tie the game around my net. Battle for space and guys are competing. The intensity rises, the blood boils a little bit and sometimes it spills over.”
The Islanders had jumped to a 1-0 lead off a goal from Tavares nine seconds into a power play in the first period. Barzal was credited with the assist and recorded his 80th point of the season.
Wayne Simmonds tied the game at 19:07 of the first period with a goal of his own.
Anthony Beauvillier put the Islanders back in front when he recorded his 20th goal of the year 3:43 into the second period. It was the first time in his career that Beauvillier had scored 20 goals in a season.
Tavares scored his second goal of the game at 11:06 of the second and Barzal scored at 16:27 to put the Islanders up 4-1.