Islanders lose double OT crusher as Flyers force Game 7

The Islanders have lost their grip on this series.

Coming out on the wrong end of a 5-4 loss in double overtime Thursday night, the Islanders allowed the Flyers to force a Game 7 of this Eastern Conference second-round series behind a goal from Ivan Provorov at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Islanders had previously gone 2-2 on their second attempts at closing out their series opponent, but Philadelphia put an end to that streak by handing the Islanders their first back-to-back losses of the postseason.

Protecting a 4-3 lead at the start of the third period, the Islanders survived an early penalty kill before failing to capitalize on a later power play. After a handful of turnovers helped the Flyers collect three goals through the first two periods, another Islanders giveaway ended with Scott Laughton faking Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov out of his pads for the 4-4 score at 9:53 of the final period.

Flyers goaltender Carter Hart then came up with four straight saves on the Islanders’ late power play to force overtime. Hart finished with 49 saves on 53 shots, while Varlamov recorded 26 saves.

Both teams traded off high-quality chances in the first overtime. Philadelphia failed to capitalize on two man-advantage opportunities while the Islanders whiffed on one. The Islanders then opened up the fifth period with a brief man-advantage that they couldn’t capitalize on either.

Varlamov stood tall on the goal line after traffic in front of his net ended in a crowded scrum in his crease before Provorov sniped one through traffic to notch the game-winning tally for the Flyers.

On a night the Flyers were bolstered by the presence of Oskar Lindblom, who made his first game appearance since he was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer back in December, the Islanders couldn’t fend off a desperate opponent that relentlessly clawed its way back into the series.

The Islanders had a solid start Thursday after struggling to get to their game first the past few games, holding the Flyers to zero shots on goal through nearly the first nine minutes of the game.

But a give-and-go between Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny ended with Hayes sniping one top shelf on Varlamov from the low slot at 10:16 of the first. It was Philadelphia’s second shot of the night.

On the Flyers’ third shot of the period roughly a minute and a half later, James van Riemsdyk scored his second goal in as many games to lift his team up 2-0. The Islanders caught a break after Nicolas Aube-Kubel was called for slashing Anders Lee at 14:30.

As the power play expired, Brock Nelson’s patience behind the net paid off as he found Devon Toews for a shot that Derick Brassard tipped in to cut the Flyers’ lead to 2-1 with just over four minutes left in the first.

After Matt Martin blocked a shot from Justin Braun in the defensive zone to open up the second period, the Islanders fourth line broke out on a three-on-two and Martin’s shot went off Braun’s shin and under Hart for the 2-2 score at 1:24.

Flyers coach Alain Vigneault challenged for goaltender interference, but the goal stood.

On the subsequent power play following Vigneault’s failed challenge, Lee buried a long rebound at 3:06 of the second to give the Islanders’ their first lead of the night 3-2.

Protecting their one-goal lead for a majority of the second, the Isles continued to unload shots and keep up the pressure. But at 13:21, following a long shift in the Islanders’ zone, Michael Raffl banged home a rebound to knot the game 3-3.

The Islanders nearly jumped back out in front after a three-on-two rush for their first line set up a dangerous opportunity for Jordan Eberle that Hart saved at 16:20 of the second. But the Islanders kept on generating chances.

Stellar pressure from Brassard forced a turnover in the Flyers’ zone and Barzal ripped one past Hart with just 29.2 seconds left in the middle frame to take a 4-3 lead into the third period.