Briere, Carter Propel Flyers Past Islanders 2-1

The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a lot of adversity today before they even took the ice against the New York Islanders. Due to bad weather conditions the Flyers didn’t arrive to New York from Carolina until 3:30 a.m. this morning. The hockey game was set for 5 p.m just 13 and a half hours later.

With little rest and a lot to play for the Flyers came out and played arguably their best game under coach Peter Laviolette. Philadelphia beat the Islanders this afternoon 2-1 to notch their third straight win.

Goaltender Michael Leighton shined in his third consecutive start stopped 28 shots en route to his third straight win. Something Leighton has never accomplished in his career.

“Of the three (straight) wins, I thought tonight was our best,” Laviolette said. “Offensively we had an identity and defensively we were pretty tight.”

Danny Briere and Jeff Carter led the way again on the offensive side of the puck each netting a goal, and each scoring in consecutive games. Carter hasn’t had back-to-back goal game performance since the first two games of the season.

The Flyers seem to have gained some of their early season swagger back as smiles have appearing on the players’ faces during games. Some of that regained enthusiasm can be credited to coach Laviolette.

Briere started things off fast with a wrister that flew over Marty Biron’s right shoulder at the 1:51 mark of the first period.

“The one big thing Lavvy said, and even Homer [general manager Paul Holmgren] said is to relax and play,” Carter said. “We started a streak in there and slumping. Guys grip their sticks, come in and it’s not much fun to come to the rink.

“We’ve really tried to come in with a smile on our face and work hard. Just have some fun, go out and play and it’s starting to turn around.”

Controversy struck in the third period when Danny Briere seemed to have scored his second goal of the game; however, the goal was stolen from him after the refs reviewed the goal and allegedly found a distinct kicking motion.

To Briere’s credit, there was no way he purposely kicked that puck past Martin Biron. He shot the puck, skated towards the post, and the puck just happened to bounce off his skate. Blown call, simply put.

Briere had no clue the puck even came close to him.

“I was laughing because I thought for sure there was no kicking,” Briere said. “I had no clue the puck even touched my skate.”

“It looked to me that Danny was going to the net, and I don’t think he even knew where the puck was,” Laviolette said. “If anything, he was dragging his foot to stop. I didn’t see a distinct kicking motion.”

That was a tough pill to swallow due to the implications of the goal being taken away. This was a ‘must’ win game in terms of the standings and the Flyers need for points. Secondly the goal would’ve put them up 3-1 at a pivotal point in the third period. Instead, the Flyers have to bear down and fight their way to a win.

“Confidence is a key factor,” Briere said. “You’re not as bad as you think when you can’t find the goals to win and you’re not as good as you think when you get on a winning streak. You’ve got to find that even keel, and it’s a tough thing to do.

“We have to realize there is still lots of work to be done.”

The final minute of the third period was some of the best hockey the Flyers have played all season. Especially on the defensive side of the puck. They played with desperation and the want to win the hockey game.

The Flyers who are now 18-18-2 have not lost to the Islanders February 2008. That’s the longest active win-streak against one team in the National Hockey League. The Flyers will now have a much-needed two days off before they square off with the Rangers on Wednesday.

Where points are starting to become more and more important the Flyers have to bear down and continue to push forward. The Winter Classic is just a few days away and it would be nice to come out of that historic day with a five-game winning streak.

“Sometimes you get messed up with your schedule,” Laviolette said. “You don’t think about it too much and your body doesn’t get a chance to seize up. You don’t have to loosen up quite so much. You just come to the rink and play. We played pretty freely.”

Quotes: Philadelphia Flyers

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