Flyers defeat the Islanders in overtime

Andrej Meszaros celebrates overtime goal against the Islanders.
Andrej Meszaros celebrates overtime goal against the Islanders.
Posted: February 25, 2011

THE OPTIMIST looks at last night's overtime win, with Andrej Meszaros' stick raised triumphantly just inside the blue line, and says the Flyers will do anything possible to avoid losing two straight games - which they have been able to do in all eight tries since Dec. 28.

The pessimist looks at last night's overtime win, which came after the Islanders celebrated the tying goal with 27 seconds remaining in regulation, and notices the Flyers have coughed up third-period leads in back-to-back games and have been outplayed in five of their last six final frames.

The realist looks at last night's overtime win, checks the standings, and realizes that the Flyers are getting through the grind of an 82-game season just fine - particularly against a team with no prayer of making the playoffs.

There are varying viewpoints - and they all have facts to back up their arguments. The only thing not debatable was the final score, as Meszaros picked the top left corner over Al Montoya to give the Flyers a 4-3 win in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center.

"We don't make it easy on ourselves, that's for sure," Chris Pronger said.

Pronger, who left the game with a wrist injury that does not appear to be serious, said the Flyers' run through the dog days of the season and through the doghouse of the standings all depends on perspective.

For a team that has led the Eastern Conference with a decent margin every day since Jan. 8, having a mental edge for every game isn't always the easiest thing to do.

And for the Flyers, there were two ways to look at last night's opponent: the Islanders who haven't finished better than last in the Atlantic Division since 2007, or the Islanders who came into the game having won six of their last eight games.

"You've got to make it [desperation] yourself," Pronger said. "Instead of maybe fighting for a playoff spot, we're fighting for home ice in the playoffs. You've got to find something to push your buttons and to make sure that you come to the rink and prepare like you're getting ready for the playoffs."

The Islanders didn't exactly push the Flyers' buttons. In turn, the Flyers fell asleep at the wheel and coughed up a two-goal lead in a span of 13 minutes in the third period. The reality is that they were able to push a button and get the two points in overtime.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano called it one of New York's best games of the season. And they were beaten by a team that decided to flip a switch.

Even so, there was no feel-good message for the Flyers' players leaving the building.

"We really needed to find out what we wanted to do out there," James van Riemsdyk said. "We didn't play a full 60 minutes and it almost came to haunt us there at the end. It's huge anytime you can get the points, but at the same time, we can play a lot better."

That's likely the message that the Flyers will hear from their coach when they reconvene for practice today in Voorhees, N.J., before leaving for tomorrow night's game at Ottawa.

Peter Laviolette knows the road won't get any easier. Out of the Flyers' 21 remaining games on the schedule, only seven come against teams that would be in the playoffs if they started today. A whole slew of them will come against teams that still will be scratching and clawing for one of the final spots.

And in Canada's capital, the last-place team in the Eastern Conference awaits them tomorrow night.

"Anytime you give up leads, it concerns you," Laviolette said. "Defensively, a lot of times, we were just too loose and too casual. Offensively, we fired a lot of shots. Losing the lead is definitely a concern. We kept looking to attack, so that's a positive."

Laviolette said he has noticed a difference in the sense of desperation this year's team compared with last year. That's human nature. Laviolette's crew last year needed to fight until the final game of the regular season.

After last night's win, the Flyers held a one-point lead over Vancouver, which was playing on the West Coast, for the top spot in the NHL.

"We are in two completely different places," Laviolette said. "Last year, there was desperation built into every game.

"I miss that a little bit - the desperation."

Sometimes, the hardest thing for a coach to do - among professional adults - is to sell them on how dire a situation is. Desperation can't be faked or duplicated. It's especially hard in February, with a giant lead, with the Islanders or Senators on the docket.

"I'm not sure how to do that," Laviolette acknowledged. "I think it's about a professionalism that we all have to have. We need to strive to be the best that we can be."

In February, sometimes it's less about the perception and more about the reality. The Flyers aren't complaining about two points.

Slap shots

The Flyers won the faceoff battle last night for the ninth time in their last 10 games . . . The Flyers became the first team in the NHL to hit 40 wins . . . Andrej Meszaros had seven shots on net, his most since Oct. 8, 2009, when he was with Tampa Bay. Last night was his second overtime goal of the season . . . The Flyers are 7-5-2 with 38 shots or more on net . . . Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 of 35 shots for his 24th win.

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at Follow him on Twitter at

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