By Connor Thomas
The Flyers-Islanders budding rivalry is quickly becoming appointment television for hockey fans. Of course fans will remember that New York ended the Flyers season last year in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, in a hard-fought, entertaining series. The first two installments of the matchup this season have also not disappointed. In the first end of a back to back with the Islanders on Saturday night, the Flyers won a back and forth overtime game 3-2 thanks to a beautiful weaving play and game winner from Scott Laughton. The back end of the 2 game set was not any easier. In a game that saw what felt like 40 minutes of power play time, Philly lit the lamp first thanks to a late 1st period goal at even strength from Joel Farabee. It didn’t take long for the Islanders to even the score, as the Flyers took a near immediate penalty and couldn’t kill of the power play. Just 38 seconds into the 2nd period and 9 seconds into New York’s man advantage, Nick Leddy ripped a shot of the post and in that Philadelphia Goalie Brian Elliott seemed to never see through a crowd in front of the crease.
Keeping with the theme of quick answers, it only took the Flyers about 2 minutes to answer back, thanks to Joel Farabee finding the back of the net again, this time with a one timer off a James van Riemsdyk pass. It wasn’t until late in the 2nd period that another score would be tallied, but just like the previous goal it was once again the Flyers, and once again Joel Farabee. Unlike his first 2 goals on the night, which he ripped past Islanders Goalie Ilya Sorokin, this one was more incidental as a Philippe Myers wrister caught a piece of Farabee on its way into the net. Regardless, a goal is a goal, and this one gave the young Flyers Winger his first hat trick of his career. With a 3-1 advantage heading into the 3rd period and Brian Elliott playing solidly between the pipes, it seemed like the Flyers might be on the path to an easier win than the previous night. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the 3rd was all Islanders, with Josh Bailey scoring just a minute in, and Mathew Barzal netting the tying goal soon after. The last 10 minutes of regulation were scoreless, and for the second night in a row, the two teams headed into OT.
Overtime was back and forth, but the Flyers got a huge break as Barzal took a bad high sticking penalty with just over a minute left on the clock. Philadelphia made short work of the man advantage with Claude Giroux finding a Kevin Hayes rebound and making a beautifully patient play to feed the puck back to Hayes for the game winner. It was again hard fought, but to take 2 straight from the Islanders is a feat the Flyers have right to be proud of. Philadelphia moved to 7-2-1 on the year, good for a points tie atop the Mass Mutual East Division with the Washington Capitals. The Islanders fell to 3-4-2 on the young season. The Flyers will have two well deserved off days before the Boston Bruins come to South Philadelphia on Wednesday.