Scary thought as Flyers sweep Isles for best 10-game start since Primeau's captain days


The Flyers have had a propensity to raise the blood pressure across the Delaware Valley whenever they play the Islanders.

They did it again Sunday night but their fans will be all smiles as they shovel away snow to start next week.

The Flyers picked up another back-and-forth, heart-racing OT victory over the Islanders with a 4-3 decision to sweep the big two-game set rematch over the weekend. Including last season's playoffs, when New York eliminated Alain Vigneault's club in a second-round Game 7, the Flyers' past five wins against the Islanders have all come in overtime. The Flyers took down New York, 3-2, in OT on Saturday.

The Islanders won nine of 12 matchups with the Flyers last season, including the postseason, regular season and preseason. The Flyers are 2 for 2 so far in 2020-21, even if it hasn't been pretty. It never really is against Barry Trotz's team.

Kevin Hayes scored the overtime winner and 20-year-old Joel Farabee netted his first career NHL hat trick.

The Flyers (7-2-1) have won four straight games.

The Islanders (3-4-2) have lost five straight games.

• The Flyers don't love the way they're playing and that's a good thing because they've still found a way to get off to their best 10-game start to a season (15 points) since the 2002-03 club, which was 7-1-2 with 16 points after 10 games.

From players to fans, nobody seems overly joyous with the 7-2-1 start. Imagine being critical of a 7-2-1 start in the past?

True contending teams win when they're not at their best. And the Flyers haven't had this kind of start since Keith Primeau's days as captain.

For a while now, the Flyers have notoriously not started well in the opening month of a season. This team will be the first to tell you it hasn't played a complete game yet. Despite that, the Flyers have not started slowly in the win-loss column. This has been their best opening month to a season since that same 2002-03 team.

Here's a look at the records in the opening month of each season between then:

• Farabee can score in a variety of ways but he was well-known for his advanced shot coming out of the 2018 draft. Back in July 2018, former general manager Ron Hextall praised the deception on Farabee's shot.

The second-year winger showed it off on his first two goals and then scored a greasy one to complete his hat trick.

Farabee had eight goals in 52 regular-season games last year as a rookie. He has five goals already this season.

There have been seven hat tricks in the NHL this season and the Flyers have two of them: Farabee and Travis Konecny.

• The Islanders' third goal was bad all the way around for the Flyers.

Justin Braun couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone and then lost a footrace in retreat but Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Robert Hagg were late on their backchecks. Anders Lee and Mathew Barzal made them pay as New York erased a 3-1 third-period deficit in fewer than six minutes.

The Flyers have had all kinds of trouble closing out games against the Islanders in the past two seasons. They blew a 3-0 third-period lead against New York last season at the Wells Fargo Center en route to a shootout loss.

Again, the Flyers have yet to piece together a complete game. The Flyers aren't going to be perfect but they can be much cleaner and consistent through 60 minutes.

• James van Riemsdyk is looking like his vintage, difference-making self, a huge early storyline for the Flyers.

He put up four assists Sunday, giving him 13 points through 10 games. It matches the best 10-game start to his career going back to his rookie season in 2009-10, when he had 13 points for the Flyers as a 20-year-old.

Since he returned to Philly in July 2018, the Flyers are 45-13-5 when he records at least one point.

• Both clubs went with their backup goalies in the second game of the back-to-back set.

Brian Elliott is 3-0-0 in three starts this season with 96 saves on 102 shots. He's one of the most reliable backups in the NHL.

With the game tied at 3-3, New York goalie Ilya Sorokin made an outstanding save on Giroux with under three minutes left in regulation. He finished with 25 stops.

• Konecny returned from his one-game benching and played with good energy. He went scoreless and the Flyers still put up four goals.

• Philippe Myers has been highly effective in his two games back from a fractured rib injury.

After playing 23:17 minutes on Saturday, Myers recorded an assist and a plus-3 rating in 23:11 minutes Sunday.

• The Flyers used a different combination of six defensemen for a fifth straight game as Hagg entered the lineup for Erik Gustafsson. Vigneault said the move wasn't specifically performance related with Gustafsson, an offensive-minded guy who played in the past two victories.

"Not that I feel Erik didn’t play a good game, but I wanted to get Haggs back in," Vigneault said before the game. "He gives us a big, physical defenseman back there."

Hagg, who was a healthy scratch the previous two games, played only 13:42.

• The officials had an interesting game. They called 10 penalties and some were ticky-tacky for both sides.

They also missed a blatant crosscheck from Casey Cizikas on Oskar Lindblom in the third period.

• The Flyers get a payback opportunity when they host the Bruins on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET/NBCSN) and Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Bruins swept a two-game set from the Flyers in Boston as they scored 10 goals, seven of which came during the third period.

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