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Isles survive Philly, lose Cizikas to injury

We are back!  Another Islanders recap.  What a game.  The New York Islanders had won three of their last four games and have points in four of their last five.  Their only stumble over the past two weeks was a 3-1 loss in Tampa Bay where they played decently well.

The Islanders came into Tuesday night’s game leading the Philadelphia Flyers in the Metro standings by just one point.  The Metro as a whole is separated by just ten points from Washington down to Carolina.  A regulation win would be a four point swing in the standings.

The Islanders started off red hot.  Josh Bailey started off the scoring with a slapper from the slot that clipped a Flyers’ stick and redirected into the net.  Just four minutes later, Leo Komarov fed Matt Martin on a 2-on-1 that Martin buried into an open net.  As the period wound down, Jordan Eberle scored on a rebound after Mathew Barzal lifted a puck to himself and threw it on net.  The Islanders led 3-0 after one.

The second period was an absolute disaster for the Islanders.  After Semyon Varlamov stood on his head for the first half of the period, the Flyers finally broke through with a wrister by Travis Konecny.  Just two minutes later, bad defensive coverage and a misplaced kick out by Varlamov gave an easy one to the Flyers, courtesy of Robert Hagg.  All of a sudden, that three goal lead disappeared to just one.

The Flyers looked to have tied the game on the Power Play late in the third but Travis Konecny’s shot from just outside the right post hit off the post and was held in the crease by Varlamov.  However, the Flyers kept pushing and eventually got a perfect bounce off the boards.  With an empty net, the puck caromed off the boards and right onto Sean Couturier’s stick, who made no mistake and tied the game with just a minute and a half left.

However, as the Islanders have done all season, they never give up on a game.  With a little over thirty seconds left, Mathew Barzal’s nifty stick play opened up the ice for a booming Ryan Pulock slapshot.  Pulock ripped one past Brian Elliott to seal the game for the Islanders in regulation.  Leo Komarov added an empty netter for insurance en route to a 5-3 win.

Lost in the win was the fact that the Islanders will be without their top penalty killer for three to four weeks.  Casey Cizikas, the heart and soul of this Islanders team, left the game after just one 30 second shift with what was originally deemed a lower body injury.

It was determined on Wednesday that his injury was a laceration on his thigh from an errant skate and that he would miss about a month.  It will be a tough loss for the Islanders and something for Lou Lamoriello to think about before the trade deadline on February 24th.

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