Read feasts on Islanders again

Posted: January 22, 2014

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Unless you're from here, or once played for the Islanders, there are few NHL players who actually enjoy visiting Long Island.

Decrepit Nassau Coliseum is easily hockey's worst arena - stuck in the 1970s with all of the downsides of the Spectrum and none of the charm or intimidation. There is next to no buzz surrounding New York's third, forgotten hockey franchise.

None of those intangibles matter to Matt Read.

To quote famed goaltender Denis Lemieux in "Slap Shot," the only worthwhile hockey movie ever made, Matt Read "owns, ownnnnns" the New York Islanders.

With two goals, Read nearly carried the Flyers to an important Metropolitan Division win yesterday afternoon, before the wheels fell off his team's bus in the third period.

Read wrapped up the four-game season series against the Islanders with an impressive six goals. For whatever reason - perhaps that, well, the Islanders haven't been a very good team - Read has feasted on New York in each of his 3 years in the NHL.

Read has 10 goals and five assists for 15 points in 14 career games against the Islanders, a career high against any opponent. The Islanders - the only team against whom Read has double-digit points - account for 16 percent of his overall career scoring (94 total points) and only 8 percent of his games played (164 games).

What is it about the Islanders? Read couldn't tell you.

"I didn't know that," Read said after the game. "I guess that's pretty cool."

The Flyers will take any game Read can find the back of the net. Over the last two seasons, the Flyers are 15-2-2 when Read scores a goal.

Read now has six career games with two or more goals, and three of those have come against the Islanders. He posted three points in a 7-0 afternoon beating last Presidents' Day, on Feb. 18, 2013.

Against New York, Read has more career shots on goal than against any other opponent, and his shooting percentage is a ridiculous 30.3 percent (10-for-33). He victimized Islanders goaltender Anders Nilsson with two highlight-reel tallies yesterday, one on a far-side backhand over a defender and the other a nifty deke that bounced off the post and in.

"It doesn't matter who you play, you try to do the same ritual, same routine every game, to prepare yourself the best you can to help your team," Read said. "Maybe I just got a couple lucky bounces against these guys. Who knows?"

Read's next favorite target is Carolina. He has nine career points (4 goals, 5 assists) against the Hurricanes, who visit the Flyers tonight.

Jake Voracek left Long Island last night with his left hand shoved in his suit coat pocket, shielding his injury from view.

Underneath, two middle fingers were taped together and held up by a splint, the result of a third-period slash that could keep the Flyers' top-line right wing out of the lineup tonight.

It was unclear exactly which of the Islanders slashed him, but a television camera angle apparently showed Voracek's strangely bent finger being examined by a team trainer.

He returned to the bench later in the third period, but did not skate another shift before heading to the locker room again.

Despite the obvious injury, general manager Paul Holmgren would only say that Voracek suffered an "upper-body" injury and he would be evaluated by doctors when the team returned home last night.

Voracek declined to comment, but seemed like he was his usual, jovial self.

Voracek, 24, has missed just four games since being acquired by the Flyers on June 24, 2011 from Columbus in exchange for Jeff Carter. The Flyers play in Columbus on Thursday night.

After Kyle Okposo's shootout winner, the 16,048 fans inside Nassau Coliseum serenaded him with chants of "U-S-A, U-S-A." It wasn't just a show of citizenship or civic pride for the St. Paul, Minn., native. Okposo was surprisingly left off USA Hockey's Olympic entry.

In addition to his shootout goal, Okposo scored the game-tying goal and assisted on John Tavares' goal in the second period. He has 20 goals and 29 assists for 49 points in 50 games this season - five more points than Claude Giroux.

Giroux has his work cut out for him to be an injury replacement for Team Canada's roster. It will be awfully tough for Hockey Canada GM Steve Yzerman to ignore his own player on the Lightning, forward Marty St. Louis.

Giroux has one goal and five assists in eight games since the Olympic rosters were announced. St. Louis has eight goals and four assists in his eight games since being undercut by his team's own manager.

In addition to St. Louis and Giroux, San Jose's Joe Thornton, Pittsburgh's James Neal and Boston's Milan Lucic are believed to be on a short list of injury-replacement candidates. Giroux - and the rest of that crew - may need more than one injury to have a prayer, given the way St. Louis has been playing.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

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