Brock Nelson scored twice Sunday night for the New York Islanders, who took a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals by beating the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2, in Game 4 in Toronto.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored the tiebreaking goal in the third period for the sixth-seeded Islanders, who seized a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. New York will attempt to close out the Flyers and advance to the conference finals for the first time since 1993 in Game 5, which is scheduled for Tuesday night.
Every team in the NHL has reached the conference finals at least once since 1994 except the Columbus Blue Jackets, who didn’t begin play until 2000.
Goalie Thomas Greiss, making his first start since March 7, made 36 saves.
Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov scored for the top-seeded Flyers. Goalie Brian Elliott, whose only previous start this month came against the Washington Capitals in round-robin play on Aug. 6, recorded 30 saves.
The Islanders outshot the Flyers 18-7 during a scoreless first period and struck first in the second. Josh Bailey picked off a clearing pass by defenseman Philippe Myers just in front of the Philadelphia blue line and passed to Nelson, who fired a shot past a sliding Travis Sanheim and over Elliott’s right shoulder at 6:52.
WATCH | Nelson scores twice as Islanders beat Flyers:
But the Flyers ended up controlling play in the second, when they had the period’s final 12 shots and outshot the Islanders 17-3 overall.
The Flyers finally tied the score with 4:41 left when Couturier, who was battling for position in the crease with Devon Toews, redirected a shot by Justin Braun that sailed to the left of the screened Greiss, who had no idea where the puck was until it landed in the back of the net.
The Islanders regained the momentum in the third thanks to Pageau, who broke the tie on a semi-breakaway at 7:18. Elliott stopped the first shot, but Pageau put back the rebound, which trickled between Elliott’s legs.
Nelson added an insurance goal following a 2-on-1 give-and-take with Bailey, who backhanded a pass through Provorov to Nelson, who beat Elliott from point-blank range with 8:48 left.
Elliott was pulled with fewer than three minutes left and the Flyers tied the score on Provorov’s goal with 64 seconds left. Greiss stopped Philadelphia’s last best attempt when he corraled a Couturier shot with 49.5 seconds remaining.