He may just end up being one of the most underrated signings of the 2015 NHL offseason.
33-year-old Russian defenseman Yevgeni Medvedev picked up two assists, while Shayne Gostisbehere, Chris Porter, Michael Raffl, Matt Read and Brayden Schenn scored for the Flyers, propelling them to a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders in preseason action Friday evening at the Wells Fargo Center.
Michael Neuvirth stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced in net, helping the Flyers advance to 3-1-0 in the 2015 NHL preseason. Bracken Kearns and Casey Cizikas scored for a split-squad Islanders team.
The Flyers didn’t come out with much fire against an Islanders “B” squad who were lacking numerous key players Friday, including star forwards John Tavares and Kyle Okposo.
Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Michael Del Zotto were all in the lineup for the Flyers, who got into penalty trouble early in the first period.
Del Zotto and Voracek both took penalties in the first half of the opening period, with Bracken Kearns finally converting for the Islanders with Jake sitting in the box.
Although the Flyers were outplayed badly in the first half of the period, they were able to turn things in the right direction after Porter re-directed a puck past goaltender Christopher Gibson 10:44 into the period to tie the game. The play was perfectly set up by defenseman Medvedev, who sent a pass right to the stick of Porter for the deflection.
Gostisbehere continued his excellent preseason play on a late first-period power play, jumping on a loose puck at the blueline and absolutely blasting a shot past Gibson, giving the Flyers the 2-1 lead.
The Flyers, who were outshot 11-8 in the first period, built off their strong finish to the frame in the second period, adding to their lead not even five minutes in.
Brayden Schenn, who had scored in each of his last two preseason games, continued his superb play Friday, striking 3:55 into the middle frame. Schenn cut down the wing before cutting in, burning a couple Isles defenders and taking the puck to the goal. Schenn went around an outstretched Gibson and tucked the puck in for a fantastic goal, putting the Flyers up 3-1.
With the Wells Fargo Center buzzing, it took less than a minute for the Flyers to add to their lead. Michael Del Zotto joined the rush and carried the puck in deep, before dishing out a nifty pass to Michael Raffl, who fired a shot towards Gibson. The New York goaltender turned Raffl away, but the Austrian followed up and sniped the rebound past Gibson, putting the Flyers up 4-1.
The Flyers were all over the Islanders in the second period, outshooting them 12-5, but Cizikas did get one back for the Islanders, cutting their deficit to two entering the final period.
Matt Read would get his first goal of the preseason midway through the final period, putting the Flyers up 5-2. The goal came off a pretty passing play from Sam Gagner and Medvedev, who placed another perfect pass onto the stick of a Flyers’ forward.
Some strong play from goaltender Neuvirth towards the end of the game ensured the Flyers would come away with a 5-2 win.
Key Stats/ Takeaways:
- Shayne Gostisbehere has three goals in his last two games and dating back to last year, has five goals in his last six preseason games. He has a wicked shot and is making it very hard on the Flyers to send him down to the Phantoms
- Brayden Schenn has scored in all three games he has played in this preseason. He’s playing like a man possessed and finished with a team-high plus-2 rating Friday
- Yevgeni Medvedev continues to prove his worth on the blueline. He set up the Flyers’ first goal and then set up Matt Read perfectly for a goal in the third period. He now has a goal and three assists in three preseason games and has arguably been the Flyers’ best defenseman
- The Flyers’ second power-play unit is going to be much improved this season. Medvedev has a booming shot and terrific vision, while Gagner, who picked up another power-play point Friday, is very crafty and can distribute the puck at an elite level
- Radko Gudas dished out five hits and picked up an assist in an impressive 20:55 of ice time. Gudas is a punishing blueliner who isn’t afraid to throw his weight around. He may not be the most offensively gifted player, but he plays with an edge and is physically punishing
Chris Porter gets the Flyers on the board:
A rocket from Gostisbehere gives the Flyers the lead:
Brayden Schenn puts Flyers up 3-1 with highlight-reel goal:
Matt Read’s first goal of the preseason makes it 5-2 Flyers:
Next Up: Flyers vs. Rangers, Monday Sept.28, 7:00, MSG