UNIONDALE, N.Y. - With a comfortable 3-0, third-period lead on Saturday night in Carolina, everything that could go wrong for the Flyers did. That night, they were redeemed in the shootout by Danny Briere and Mike Richards.
Last night, the Flyers didn't need a savior. Just a few prayers on close calls.
Skating with a thin, 2-1 edge on Long Island, the Flyers - for the third time on this six-game swing away from the Wachovia Center - averted three or four certain catastrophes in the third period to preserve their first three-game winning streak under Peter Laviolette.
"It's not always pretty," Briere said. "When you're in a tough stretch, you have to find a way to win tight games. We did that [Saturday] night in Carolina and we did that again [last] night. These are two pretty big steps for our team."
It was the Flyers' 13th consecutive win over the Islanders, the longest active winning streak in the NHL against one team.
After Briere had what would have been his second goal of the game disallowed 3 minutes, 6 seconds into the final frame, the Flyers killed off two Islander power plays and Michael Leighton stood tall against a late flurry.
Chris Pronger went to the box on a boarding call just seconds after Briere's non-goal and James van Riemsdyk teamed up with Arron Asham on concurrent roughing penalties 5 minutes later.
"When we needed it, it came out strong," Briere said of the penalty kill. "You can see when we do well on the PK it is a totally different team."
These penalty kills differed from the unsuccessful ones during the Flyers' recent 3-13-1 stretch because their hungry penalty killers kept the Islanders back on their heels with successive shorthanded attacks.
"They were really sharp," Laviolette said. "We had sticks in the lanes, we had constant pressure. I thought they did a terrific job.
"I thought of the three wins, [last] night was our best. I think what was consistent about our effort was that it came from everybody. Everyone was on the same page."
The NHL's War Room in Toronto clearly wasn't on the same page with last night's video replay. Referee Dan Marouelli explained to the sparse 12,819 in attendance at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum that Briere "kicked the puck with a distinct kicking motion." Briere's shot flipped through close friend Marty Biron's five-hole and toward the post, where he seemed to graze it with his skate as he went toward the boards.
In the video replays, Briere did not seem to have any idea how close he was to the puck.
"I still think it's a missed call," Briere said. "I wasn't even looking. When I came back to the bench, I didn't even have a clue it touched my skate before it went in. I don't know how you can kick without looking."
The Flyers wouldn't have been in the nail-biting predicament without that call.
Still, Jeff Carter had a chance to bury the game after a turnover deep in the Islanders' zone with just 6:40 remaining in the game. His rocket wrist shot sailed over the net.
It was Carter's late second-period goal that ended up being the game-winner. The line of Briere, Carter and Scott Hartnell combined for 11 of the Flyers' 30 shots on goal. Briere scored the game's first goal, a top-shelf snipe over Biron, off a pass from Carter. Hartnell, who finished with two assists, was also a big contributor defensively.
"Homer [general manager Paul Holmgren] said it to us that we just have to relax and play," Carter said. "We've really tried to come in and put a smile on our face, work hard and have some fun. It's starting to turn around."
Jon Sim tied it for the Islanders in the second period, but Leighton - and a disciplined neutral-zone trap - helped shut the door. Last night was the first time Leighton has strung together three straight wins in the NHL.
"We've realized the way we have to play to be successful," Hartnell said. "Three games in a row, it seems like forever since we've done that. We're kind of coming together as a team right now.
"With the Christmas break, everyone went home and realized we're playing a game. It's fun."
Each team was credited with just two power-play opportunities . . . Michael Leighton said last night was the first back-to-back games started he can remember in the last few years.