Isles score early, often to down Flyers

Uniondale, NY ( - Nikolay Kulemin had two goals and an assist and the New York Islanders closed out a hugely successful pre-All-Star- break schedule with a 7-4 decision over the Philadelphia Flyers.

John Tavares, Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey and Nick Leddy each scored once and assisted on another in a game the Islanders led from start to finish, with Jaroslav Halak adding 25 saves in the win.

New York will enter the break atop the Metropolitan Division with 63 points and a 31-14-1 record.

"I'm very pleased up until this point with our hockey club," Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said afterward. "We've done a lot of good things, not only winning hockey games, but how we are winning games."

The Islanders put up four of their goals just past the midway mark of the second period, resulting in the Flyers pulling netminder Rob Zepp after he stopped just 16-of-20 shots.

Mark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Claude Giroux and Chris VandeVelde all had goals for the Flyers, while Ray Emery saved 18-of-20 attempts in relief of Zepp.

Zepp, the 33-year-old rookie making only his fifth career NHL start, had his rough afternoon begin early. Grabner took in a pass from Kulemin and blew past Flyers defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo before firing a shot into the top right corner to put the Islanders ahead just 1:32 in.

Kulemin made it a 2-0 game with a little over eight minutes elapsed, as a long drive from Johnny Boychuk was kicked out by Zepp right to the Russian forward for him to deposit into an opening.

The Flyers had a chance to cut into the deficit with a power play early in the second period. However, Kulemin blocked a shot from Matt Read and embarked on a breakaway which he finished with a short-handed tally to put New York up 3-0.

"When you play as hard as he plays, you're going to get results," Capuano said of Kulemin. "He's a guy that away from the puck, plays exceptionally well defensively. We can use him in some crucial situations, not just the penalty kill, but 5-on-5."

Halak couldn't prevent a blast from Streit from trickling through on a Flyers' power play midway through the middle session, but Bailey restored the Isles' three-goal advantage less than three minutes later by putting home the rebound of Travis Hamonic's initial attempt and prompting Zepp's exit.

"We've got to do a better job in front of our goalies," Giroux said. "Our best defense is our offense, so we have to go play offensively and keep the puck down there."

Philadelphia answered with 4:48 left in the second when Del Zotto snuck a shot under Halak's pads off a centering feed from Jakub Voracek. However, New York entered the intermission owning a comfortable 5-2 lead on a Tavares goal with 7.6 seconds to go in the frame.

After receiving a give from Frans Nielsen from the left boards, the Islanders captain moved in and lifted a backhander over Emery's left shoulder with New York on a 5-on-4 situation.

The Flyers trimmed the margin to 5-3 when Giroux converted Halak's giveaway behind his own net into an easy tap-in 49 seconds into the third period.

Philadelphia couldn't get any closer, however, with Leddy all but sealing the outcome by flinging a puck that got through a screened Emery with 14:15 left to play.

Both teams registered goals in the final 2 1/2 minutes to complete the scoring. VandeVelde successfully redirected Luke Schenn's point shot for the Flyers' final marker, with Anders Lee tacking on an empty-netter for New York with 1:03 remaining.

Game Notes

The previous meeting between the clubs this season went scoreless through regulation and overtime, with the Isles claiming a 1-0 shootout win Nov. 24 at Nassau Coliseum ... Boychuk finished with two assists for the Islanders, with Voracek and Brayden Schenn posting a pair of helpers for Philadelphia ... Islanders forward Kyle Okposo was named the NHL's Third Star of the Week on Monday after scoring five goals in three games ... The Flyers had been 14-1-1 this season when scoring four or more goals prior to Monday's result ... Colaiacovo left the game with an apparent lower-body injury in the third period.