The Islanders got exactly what they deserved Monday afternoon: a tongue-lashing after not showing up for work.
“They were the hungrier team. They blocked way more shots. They were more physical. They won the board battles. They won the 50-50 puck battles. They manhandled us. That, to me, is controllable. That’s your work ethic. That’s your battle level. That’s what’s unacceptable,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said following a noncompetitive, 7-0 loss to the Flyers at the Nassau Coliseum.
“Find it within. Some guys have it. Some guys don’t.”
The loss was the worst of the season for the 6-8-1 Islanders, who came into the game having won two in a row.
“It’s not acceptable,” Mark Streit said. “We had a terrible game.”
Thirteen Islanders finished minus-1 or worse. The top line of Brad Boyes, John Tavares and Matt Moulson were a combined minus-9. Andrew MacDonald was on the ice for four of the Flyers’ six goals, and finished minus-3. Lubomir Visnovsky also had a minus-3 rating.
By means of comparison, 13 Flyers finished with a plus rating, and 10 recorded at least one point led by the top line of Claude Giroux, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek. Voracek had four assists, while Giroux (two goals and an assist) and Read (a goal and two assists) had three points each in the Presidents Day matinee.
“It’s only one game but we’ve been working well — me and Reader and Jake,” Giroux said. “Hopefully we can keep the chemistry going.”
Danny Briere scored two third-period goals. Brayden Schenn and Zac Rinaldo also scored for the Flyers.
“They have Giroux, Briere and couple other guys who are tremendously skilled,” Matt Moulson said. “They’re going to capitalize if you make mistakes.”
It didn’t take long for the rout to commence. Giroux one-timed a Read pass past Isles goaltender Evgeni Nabokov at 26 seconds. The Flyers had a 1-0 lead on the game’s first shot. It would be all they would need.
“It’s nice to get that going in the other direction,” Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s happened to us too much this year. To go out that first shift [and score], I think that was really important by Claude’s line. “Not only did they score the goal [but] they were physical right off the bat and set the [tone for the game].”
The Islanders’ best opportunity to get back in the game came with 6:10 left in the first as they were awarded a 5-on-3 power play for a full two minutes. But the Islanders were only able to generate one shot on the two-man advantage.
“The effort, the execution, was horrendous,” Capuano said. “We couldn’t execute. We had that 5-on-3 and we didn’t generate anything. We have to be mentally stronger than that.”
While Ilya Bryzgalov did not have to work very hard to record his 30th career shutout and the first of this season, making just 19 saves, Nabokov was under siege all afternoon. Even though the stat sheet showed the Flyers outshot the Islanders, 25-19, the majority of the play was in front of Nabokov.
“He’s been playing great. It’s not on his [shoulders],” Streit said. “We just didn’t help him enough tonight.”
The Islanders lost defenseman Brian Strait for the game in the second period with what the team called “a left ankle injury.” He will be re-evaluated today. Skating near the benches, Strait lost an edge and fell to the ice. It appeared as if the skate blade was stuck in the ice momentarily, forcing Strait to have to crawl to the bench.
“Brian Strait is going to be out for awhile,” Capuano said. “I think he’s going to be out for awhile.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.