UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP)—Rick DiPietro saw the pass come out of the corner and knew he had one chance to protect his shutout.
DiPietro also stopped the remaining 26 shots that came his way Wednesday night and the Islanders finally figured out the Flyers at home in a 2-0 victory.
New York played a sound defensive game and didn’t give Philadelphia many chances to score or much hope it could escape Long Island with another win. Midway through the second period, Umberger got free by the crease and took a perfect pass from Jeff Carter, but DiPietro’s quick reflexes denied the redirect.
“I just tried to throw everything I had,” DiPietro said after his 11th NHL shutout—fifth this season. “I was just fortunate to get a piece of it.”
DiPietro, 4-0-2 in his past six starts, turned aside some challenging shots but wasn’t really tested. The Islanders stretched their point streak to a season-high eight games (5-0-3) and moved within two points of Carolina, the eighth-place team in the Eastern Conference.
Knocking off the Flyers at Nassau Coliseum has turned into as tough a task as any for the Islanders. New York won both matchups in Philadelphia this season — where the Flyers have won only three times—but dropped two on home ice, joining Atlanta as the only teams to lose multiple games to them this season.
Viktor Kozlov scored in the first period and Miroslav Satan doubled the lead in the second. That was enough to break the Islanders’ four-game, home losing streak to the Flyers—14-4-1-1 in their past 20 trips to Long Island.
“They’re struggling but they’re still a very good team,” Kozlov said of the Flyers (13-33-7). “They’ve got very good players, so you can not relax.”
Philadelphia had earned points in a season-high four straight games, but fell behind early this time.
Tom Poti took a pass from Jeff Tambellini and skated quickly down the slot— drawing goalie Antero Niittymaki out of position when he slid the puck to Kozlov. The forward deftly backhanded a shot from the bottom of the left circle, a backhanded drive from a bad angle that clanked off the crossbar and in for his 19th goal at 8:13.
Poti showed little rust despite missing four games due to back spasms. Kozlov’s goal was more than enough to seal the Flyers’ fate.
“I just shoot,” Kozlov said. “(Poti) brings the goalie to him and he leaves a wide-open net.”
In this Philadelphia season that likely will go down as the worst in franchise history, the Flyers dropped to 2-27-2 when allowing the first goal and to 2-22 when trailing after one period.
“We started right away with a couple of chances and played a good first period,” Flyers captain Peter Forsberg said. “They took over in the second period. We didn’t play with enough intensity.
“Everybody knows we can play better than this.”
Satan made it 2-0 at 3:37 of the second period during a delayed penalty call.
Andy Hilbert passed the puck in front to Satan, who got off a shot between his legs with his back turned to the net. The rebound bounced back to Satan, who steered a shot in from the right side.
DiPietro did the rest.
Simon Gagne posed other threats to DiPietro’s shutout, yet couldn’t turn pretty passes from Forsberg into goals. He missed the net on several occasions in addition to a hard drive that nestled into DiPietro’s midsection.
“You really have to tighten up this time of year when goals are tough to come by,” DiPietro said. “If you aren’t going to score many, you can’t give up many.”
Niittymaki did his best to keep the Flyers in it. He stopped all but one of New York’s 14 shots in the second period, including a breakaway by Mike Sillinger and Poti’s drive on the shift before Satan’s goal.
He stopped Poti again during New York’s 5-on-3 advantage in the third and finished with 35 saves. Niittymaki is 2-1-1 since snapping his 15-game losing streak.
“It wasn’t our best game,” Niittymaki said. “I made a couple of good saves, but it wasn’t enough for us.”
Flyers D Randy Jones returned after missing four games because of a separated right shoulder. … The Islanders were without forwards Alexei Yashin (knee) and Shawn Bates (groin) but got defensemen Poti and Bruno Gervais (ankle) back. … DiPietro has won four of five starts against Philadelphia. Backup Mike Dunham took the previous two losses.