Alexei Yashin scored twice and Rick DiPietro stopped 32 shots to lift New York to a 3-1 win over NHL-worst Philadelphia on Thursday night. “We have to realize we have a really good team,” Yashin said. “When we win two or three in a row, we got so high, and then when we lose two in a row, we come down.” Imagine how the Flyers must feel.
The Flyers dropped to 2-5-1 at home and are already in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
Not even a coaching change has jolted the Flyers out of their season-long funk. Philadelphia lost its fourth straight, dropped to 2-5 under John Stevens and are 3-11-1 overall for a league-worst seven points. Through 15 games last season, the Flyers were 11-3-1.
Oh, and it could get worse. Northeast Division-leading Buffalo comes to town on Saturday.
“It’s early, but we’re getting far behind,” captain Peter Forsberg said. “We’re getting left by ourselves down there. If we’re going to have any chance of turning this season around, we’ve got to start winning now.”
The Islanders were sharp in their first game since coach Ted Nolan said his team seemed to quit in Monday’s 5-1 loss to Tampa Bay and snapped a two-game losing streak in which they were outscored 9-2 at home.
“I was concerned with our effort the last couple of games, but I wasn’t concerned with the people we have here,” Nolan said. “They’re a good group of guys, but we have to make sure we’re on them a little bit and don’t take anything for granted.”
The Islanders started a five-game road swing after playing nine of 10 at home. They scored twice in the first period, never giving the Flyers a chance to get going early, and DiPietro made the goals stand up with a stellar effort, coming close to his first shutout since April 8 against Washington.
“Their team put a lot of pucks on net and pressured hard. Our defencemen did a good job in front of the net limiting their time in the zone,” DiPietro said.
DiPietro and teammate Arron Asham got into a brief scuffle in Wednesday’s practice. Maybe the quick fight fired up the goalie, who was perfect until Simon Gagne scored his eighth goal on a power play in the game’s final minutes.
That made the Flyers 8-for-91 on power-play chances.
“There’s a lot of things missing, I’d say,” Forsberg said.
Yashin scored his sixth of the season midway through the first, knocking the puck past Antero Niittymaki after it bounced off the post and right back to his stick.
The Islanders made it 2-0 late in the first after Shawn Bates charged down the right wing and fed the puck across the ice to Richard Park for a one-timed goal.
Niittymaki stopped 17 shots for the Flyers and hasn’t won since Oct. 26. It’s not all his fault, though, as the Flyers have been outscored by a whopping 60-30 margin.
Stevens even resorted to using a “Shooter Tutor” in Wednesday’s practice, sticking a slab of wood in the net to force the Flyers to aim higher with their shots.
“We put a big push on in the third period, but why are we in the situation to begin with?” Stevens said. “The push has to come from the start of the game when we can do something about it.”
New York went up 3-0 late in the second when Jason Blake skated into the offensive zone and made a nifty drop pass to Yashin, who fired a slap shot from the circle past Niittymaki’s glove.
Notes: The Flyers acquired RW Darren Reid from the Tampa Bay Lightning for C Daniel Corso. Reid had a goal and five penalty minutes in 10 games this season for the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. He had an assist in seven games for the Lightning last season. … One day after they were called up to the Flyers, centres Matt Ellison and Ryan Potulny were sent back to their AHL affiliate, the Phantoms. … Flyers C Mike Richards and Asham lost their helmets and exchanged several stiff punches during a late first-period fight. There was another skirmish between the teams at the end of the second period.