James van Riemsdyk scored two goals in the first period and finished his first NHL hat trick in the third to help the Philadelphia Flyers remain alone atop the Eastern Conference with a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
Jeff Carter staked the Flyers to the lead at 8:11, and van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 just 22 seconds later. Blake Comeau got the Islanders within a goal, but van Riemsdyk scored again before the period ended.
Van Riemsdyk's 19th of the season made it 4-1 at 9:15 of the third during a power play and gave him his first three-goal game in 145 career contests. Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves.
Philadelphia beat the Islanders for the fifth time this season and has won 20 of 21 meetings between the division rivals. This one eliminated New York (29-35-12) from postseason contention for the fourth straight year and fifth out of six since the NHL lockout.
Rick DiPietro stopped 18 shots in the loss.
The Flyers earned their 24th road win and reached 100 points, keeping them ahead of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. Philadelphia surely felt at home in this one as Nassau Coliseum was full of orange-and-black-clad Flyers fans, who loudly supported their team.
So much so that when van Riemsdyk scored his third goal, the Islanders had to watch their home ice littered with hats.
Philadelphia entered Saturday two points ahead of Washington in the East and two in front of Pittsburgh in the chase for the Atlantic Division title. The Flyers snapped a stretch of four straight shootouts — in which they lost three — and earned a point for the ninth straight game (5-0-4).
The game started with a bang, before any of the offensive fireworks.
Off the opening faceoff, New York's Micheal Haley and Philadelphia counterpart Daniel Carcillo dropped the gloves for a fight in which Haley landed the bigger shots. The crowd was still settling in when Flyers defenseman Sean O'Donnell and Zenon Konopka squared off in the Flyers' end 19 seconds later.
O'Donnell fought Matt Martin in the third period once the game got out of hand.
Carter broke the deadlock off a faceoff win by Claude Giroux in the offensive zone. The puck came to Carter at the top edge of the left circle for a hard wrist shot that beat DiPietro.
Van Riemsdyk then took over, scoring twice in a span of less than 5 minutes. He raced down the right wing, cut around defenseman Jack Hillen and stuffed in the puck to make it 2-0.
Comeau cut the deficit in half at 10:28, but van Riemsdyk restored the two-goal edge at 13:25.
Notes: This is the Islanders longest playoff drought since they missed in seven straight seasons from 1995-2001. ... New York LW Trevor Gillies was eligible to return after serving a 10-game NHL suspension, but didn't play. ... Giroux, who played in his 200th NHL game, had two assists. He has a point in seven of 10 games (3 goals, 9 assists). ... Van Riemsdyk had gone nine games without a goal. ... The Flyers, 24-9-4 on the road, reached 100 points in 74 games. It's the fastest they hit the mark since 1985-86. ... Philadelphia went 1 for 1 on the power play, breaking a five-game drought.