PHILADELPHIA – Mike Richards might want to slyly suggest one of his Flyers teammates get whistled for diving, holding or any other type of penalty that would leave Philadelphia short-handed.
Richards somehow finds a way to make teams pay on the penalty kill.
Richards knocked in his own rebound for the winner early in the third period to lead Philadelphia to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Monday night and help the Flyers remain undefeated at home.
“He’s got great instincts and he’s a big-game player,” Flyers coach John Stevens said. “He came through tonight.”
The Flyers are 6-0 at the Wachovia Center and have re-established the home-ice advantage they wasted last season when they won only 10 times in front of the orange-and-black die-hards, who showed their appreciation with a standing ovation at the final horn.
The Flyers won at home against the Islanders for the second time this season after dropping all four games against New York in Philadelphia last season.
Scottie Upshall scored twice for the Flyers. Martin Biron played a pivotal part in the perfection and was sharp again in this one with 24 saves.
Mike Sillinger and Chris Simon scored for the Islanders, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.
Richards caught a break early in the third when goalie Rick DiPietro failed to cleanly handle a slap shot from just outside the circle. The puck bounced back right into a charging Richards, who scored the goal that gave Philadelphia a 3-2 lead.
Richards has three short-handed goals this season.
“I saw the puck come out a little bit and I didn’t want to skate into the corners,” he said. “It was just kind of laying there.”
Richards led the Flyers last season with four short-handed goals and has two career 3-on-5 goals. He was tied for first among NHL rookies with three short-handed goals in the 2005-06 season.
“He’s been playing great. He’s been our best player so far,” Upshall said. “We need that out of all our guys every night to step up and score big goals like that. He stepped up and came through for us.”
DiPietro, who had 14 saves, couldn’t make the most of his low workload.
“He just kept whacking at it and it went in,” DiPietro said. “He just got a shot at whacking at it a couple of times and it was a goal. It ended up being an odd-man rush on a power play and it ended up costing us.”
Richards might not have been in position to score the winner if not for Upshall.
Upshall, playing in only his seventh game of the season because of a broken wrist sustained in a preseason game, gave the Flyers a surprising scoring boost in the second of a four-game homestand.
Upshall used some sharp stick work to manoeuvre the puck around the defense and slide it past DiPietro for a 2-1 Philadelphia lead in the second.
The Islanders used an odd play to tie it with 1:43 left in the period. Miroslav Satan’s shot landed behind Biron’s skate in the crease. Simon crashed into Biron, who fell on his back and was helpless as the puck scooted to the back of the net.
Upshall took advantage of a misplay off the boards to put the Flyers up 1-0 midway through the first. Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter battled into the boards with Andy Sutton for the puck behind the net. The puck squirted free, and Islanders forward Ruslan Fedotenko tried to clear it down the ice, but swung it into Upshall’s path.
Upshall knocked the puck past DiPietro for his second goal of the season.
“It’s nice to be able to make a move on the goalie,” Upshall said.
The Islanders and Flyers combined for only nine shots in the first.
DiPietro stopped Richards on a breakaway early in the second and the Islanders came right back after that sensational save to make it 1-1. Sillinger scored his second goal of the season on a backhander.
The Islanders wasted all four power-play opportunities.
“We didn’t have any power on the power play,” coach Ted Nolan said. “You have to get some shots through and you have to create some havoc in front of the net to give any goaltender some trouble. We just didn’t establish anything.”
Notes: Flyers C Daniel Briere played in his 500th NHL game. … Flyers LW Simon Gagne sat out again with concussion-type symptoms. Gagne has complained of vision problems and dizziness. … The Islanders started a four-game road trip, all against Atlantic Division teams. … Satan’s assist on Simon’s goal extended his point streak to eight games.