Despite inept officials, Flyers beat Isles to end home stand

PHILADELPHIA- It wasn’t a pretty way to end their six-game homestand, but it was a win. The Flyers overcame adversity because of nonsensical officiating to beat the New York Islanders 2-1 from the Wachovia Center this afternoon.

Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell each scored to help push the Flyers past the slumping Islanders. Netminder Ray Emery, who was between the pipes for every game during the homestand, stopped 31 shots. Both Philadelphia goals came in the first period, so both defenses controlled the game for the next 40 minutes.

After practice yesterday, coach Peter Laviolette decided to change his lines around to create a new spark. With Scott Hartnell being paired with captain Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, the slumping winger netted his first goal in six games, only his second in 26.

“We’ve had success in the past, Scotty and I,” Richards said. “It’s nice to have a big, rugged winger who’s going to finish his checks. His hands are underrated a lot and he makes good plays. He showed it tonight. He had success.”

Briere begun the scoring 8:22 into the first with a pretty wraparound that beat Dwayne Roloson through his left-side pad. That was the 16th time in the past 18 games that the Flyers struck first.

Coach Laviolette said the other day to not take any team that isn’t the Penguins or Devils lightly. Because teams like the Islanders are ones who play aggressive and work hard every shift. What did Laviolette thing about today’s game?

“We played a team that was aggressive,” he said. “They were down, and anytime we’re going to play teams that are around us and you’ve got a lead you better put your hard hat on and get ready, because they’re going to be coming, and after the second was over and the swing, the change, and the momentum, the third period, we picked it back up, still not to the way we did in the first, but I think they changed their game.”

The Flyers went up 2-0 when Hartnell redirected a Richards slapshot past a blind Roloson at 17:12 on the power-play. Hartnell played his best in a while, he was all over the ice, winning battles in front of the net, and working hard along the boards. It was fitting yet rewarding for Hartnell to finally put one in the net.

“He was good today, it seems like he has that edge when he’s most effective,” Richards said of Hartnell. “You don’t like to see him sitting in the penalty box, but it’s nice to see that fire and determination and hitting bodies and being physical in the game. When he’s like that, he’s at his best.

“It’s fun to score goals, that’s what hockey’s all about: helping your team win,” Hartnell said. “I was pretty jacked up, and it seemed like everyone was emotionally involved tonight – it was kind of a chippy game, a lot of stuff after the whistles. But we got two points. It’s a great feeling to get a victory here after a disappointing loss last game.”

Controversy quickly struck the momentum filled Flyers just over seven minutes into the second period. Kimmo Timonen took a slapshot from the point and beat Roloson to put the Flyers up 3-0.

Not so fast.

After Timonen’s shot went in the net, Hartnell ran into Roloson before the puck crossed the line, according to the officials. The goal was taken away from Timonen and Hartnell was sent to box for interference.

Just over seven minutes later, Josh Bailey put a wrist shot by Emery to limit the lead to just one, 2-1. It was obvious to myself that the puck clearly crossed the line before Hartnell collided with the goalie. Also, none of the refs signaled no goal. Nobody.

That, my friends, is just Flyers luck.

“I disagree with the call,” Laviolette said. “I don’t want to comment on the refereeing. Next question. I’m frustrated.”

Overall, the game didn’t have a lot of excitement; however, the intensity was there for both clubs. With the lack of scoring depth, the Islanders had a tough time collecting quality scoring chances. Emery did help his own cause by preventing a lot of second and third rebound opportunities. The Flyers played a hungry game in front of their goaltender, but only came away with two goals.

“He was eating pucks up a little better tonight, not allowing rebounds and things of that nature,” Chris Pronger said. “And that’s important for a goalie, especially on a power play for the other team – when the goaltender’s eating it up, it’s very frustrating to the other team looking for loose rebounds and second and third opportunities.”

Consistency is still coming at a slow pace for the Flyers, but their surely getting there.

“I think, honestly, probably every team struggles with [consistency],” Laviolette said. “If you go ask their coach right now and ask him if you thought the consistency was perfect tonight, and they’d say no. Then you go and ask anyone else playing tonight and, you know, 60 minutes, night after night, that’s what everybody strives for, and all you can do is keep working toward it.”

The Flyers will now head north where they’ll faceoff against the Calgary Flames who have lost nine straight games. That game will take place Monday from the Saddledome.

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