After Flyers' F grade at MSG, Oskar Lindblom helps team pass season's biggest test yet

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Jordan Hall
·6 min read
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After Flyers' F grade at MSG, Lindblom helps team pass season's biggest test yet originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Oskar Lindblom had to helplessly watch as the Flyers were humiliated by nine goals on national television Wednesday night at the world's most famous arena.

Lindblom wasn't watching 24 hours later. Instead, he was back in the lineup Thursday night and delivering his best game of the season as the Flyers held off the Islanders for a 4-3 win at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The Flyers held the Islanders scoreless over the first two periods. Against the Rangers the night prior, the Flyers were blitzed by nine goals before the third period started.

"I believe we're having some consistency issues in our game," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said pregame Thursday. "Some of our players are going from a Grade A performance to a C performance; in this league, that's just not good enough. You can't always be at your top with the demands of every individual game in the schedule, but you can't have the drop-offs that we are having as a team right now."

The Flyers went from an F performance Wednesday to a passing grade Thursday. They coughed up a 3-0 third-period advantage against the Islanders but played a substantially better game in the first two periods and found a way to win.

Vigneault and company will take it.

The Flyers (15-10-3) handed the Islanders their first regulation home loss of the season. New York was 12-0-2 and allowing only 1.93 goals per game at home before Thursday night's defeat.

The Islanders won nine of 12 matchups with the Flyers last season, including the postseason, regular season and preseason. So far, the Flyers are 3-0-0 against New York this season. None of the victories have been easy.

Despite the 9-0 embarrassment at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, the Flyers are 2-1-0 in their four-game road swing through New York. A strong finish will further alleviate concern from Wednesday.

"Our captain tonight and his assistants I thought really took the lead," Vigneault said postgame. "Nobody was happy about yesterday — this is a proud group, they're professionals, they're competitors and we laid it all out tonight."

After losing back-to-back overtime games to the Flyers at the end of January, the Islanders (19-8-4) had gone 16-3-2 with an NHL-best 34 points entering Thursday. New York, though, will be without captain Anders Lee (ACL surgery) for the rest of the season.

• Lindblom sure looked reset.

The 24-year-old winger sat last game because Vigneault wanted to give him an opportunity to turn the page both physically and mentally. Lindblom is working his way back to form after beating cancer last July. He was also shut down for two-plus weeks in February because of a bout with COVID-19.

Lindblom answered the bell Thursday with the Flyers in desperate need of energy and a lift.

And character.

Just over three minutes after New York knotted the game, Lindblom snapped an impressive shot right outside the circle to put the Flyers back ahead. Travis Konecny found him for his third assist of the game.

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In the second period, Lindblom collected a rebound and flushed it home to give the Flyers a much-needed 1-0 lead. Lindblom, who hadn't scored a goal since scoring a pair over the first two games of the season, let out a healthy pump of his fist.

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On the Flyers' second goal by Claude Giroux, Lindblom didn't receive an assist but he made the sequence all possible by eating contact along the back boards as he protected the puck.

"He was great," Giroux said. "He's a pretty smart player, so when you have a player that's always in good position, it makes your job a lot easier. He helped our team a lot tonight."

• Carter Hart couldn't nail down the 3-0 lead but was able to win consecutive starts for the first time since Jan. 28-30.

He was solid through the first 40 minutes but Michael Dal Colle, Sebastian Aho and Oliver Wahlstrom cracked him in the third period as New York, of course, didn't go away. Dal Colle's shot was stoppable for Hart, but Aho's goal came on weak coverage by the Flyers and Wahlstrom snuck behind Giroux for a backdoor marker to tie it.

The 22-year-old finished with 22 saves on 25 shots.

"Just chipping away at things right now, getting back to playing my game and trusting the game that I built and I think it's coming," Hart said. "It's going in the right direction; I've just got to build off of it."

Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov stopped 27 shots.

• Thanks to a big second period, the Flyers held their first second-intermission lead in March. The last time they took an advantage into the third period was Feb. 28.

Kevin Hayes and Jakub Voracek punctuated the middle frame with a pretty rush to set the Flyers up with a 3-0 edge at second intermission.

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• Robert Hagg will miss two to four weeks with a shoulder injury and Shayne Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch for a second straight game (see story).

Philippe Myers and Travis Sanheim both played 20-plus minutes and battled. They weren't perfect but they got back up on the horse after being on the ice for six of the Rangers' nine goals Wednesday night.

"I loved the way they redeemed themselves," Vigneault said. "I thought both of them played a much better game."

• The Flyers' penalty kill is 14 for its last 16.

• The Flyers finish their four-game New York road trip Saturday when they face the Islanders again (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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