Tuesday, November 25, 2014
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Islanders earn shootout victory over Flyers

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[November 25, 2014]  UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Spring made a brief return to Long Island Monday afternoon, when the temperature flirted with 70 degrees. Hours later, the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers paid tribute to the unusually mild weather by playing the type of game usually seen come playoff time in the spring.

Centers Frans Nielsen and John Tavares scored in the shootout Monday as the Islanders outlasted the Flyers, 1-0, at Nassau Coliseum.

The goals by Nielsen and Tavares lifted the Islanders (15-6-0) to their fourth straight win and made a hard-luck loser out of Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who was spectacular in making 46 saves in regulation and overtime -- the most he has ever made without giving up a goal.

"He played great for them," said Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak, who made 21 saves before turning back both Flyers shots in the shootout. "He stole one point from us."

But Mason couldn't steal two points thanks to Nielsen and Tavares, who scored the shootout goals in the Islanders' previous 1-0 shootout win -- which was also against the Flyers on Feb. 7, 2012.

Nielsen, the Islanders' second shooter, fired a shot under Mason's right leg. Tavares, the third shooter, came to a stop in front of the goalmouth and shuffled the puck as the crowd went silent.

Finally, Tavares faked Mason to the right and chipped the puck over his left shoulder to ensure the Islanders would remain atop the Metropolitan Division along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who beat the Boston Bruins 3-2.

The Islanders have won their last seven shootouts dating back to April 11.

"Knock on wood," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of the Islanders' shootout fortunes. "Hopefully that'll continue for us. That extra point come the end of the season could be huge."

Single-handedly earning the Flyers a point and perhaps helping their playoff standing brought little solace afterward to Mason, whose 46 saves were his most since he stopped 47 of 50 shots for the Columbus Blue Jackets against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 19, 2010.

The Flyers (8-9-3) have lost five of their last six (1-4-1) and are three points behind the third-place New York Rangers in the Metropolitan and five points behind second wild card Toronto.

"Hopefully down the road that might help us in the playoffs," Mason said. "But we left another point out there. That's unacceptable."

Still, Mason was brilliant on a night in which the Islanders managed to tie a season high for shots despite playing on an ice made choppy by the weather.

"It's just one of those games," Tavares said. "It was hot in the building tonight."

And it was hot afterward: As Tavares spoke, an Islanders staffer turned on fans to cool the stuffed home locker room.

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"The ice was a little slower than before," Tavares said. "Just seemed a little bit harder to kind of get to those second (and) third opportunities or get some clean looks."

The Islanders peppered Mason throughout and had numerous chances to win the game as the crowd roared in the waning moments of regulation. Over the final three minutes, center Josh Bailey missed a shot and center Mikhal Grabovski missed the rebound during a shift change.

Later, Grabovski fired wide right on a breakaway shortly before Mason gloved a slap shot by right winger Kyle Okposo from the right faceoff circle.

As for Halak, he made his biggest save in the first period, when he turned back a shorthanded breakaway shot by center Sean Couturier before turning back Couturier's rebound.

"When the game is 0-0, it could have gone either way," Halak said. "I'm happy we got it done in the shootout."

The win was the seventh in a row for Halak, who has allowed just eight goals and authored three shutouts in that span.

NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game in honor of Pat Quinn, the longtime NHL player and coach who died Monday at age 71. Quinn served as the head coach of four teams, including the Flyers, who set an NHL record with a 35-game unbeaten streak with Quinn behind the bench during the 1979-80 season. ... The Flyers scratched injured C Chris Vandevelde (lower body) as well as the healthy duo of RW Jason Akeson and D Carlo Colaiacovo. ... The Islanders scratched D Calvin De Haan and D Thomas Hickey, each of whom is sick, as well as C Cory Conacher. ... Islanders LW Michael Grabner, who hasn't played this season due to a sports hernia, participated in conditioning drills before the morning skate.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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