The Flyers will take a lot of positives away from Monday night's game.
And they should.
But they ultimately need to start getting results to salvage at least some of this disconcerting March.
The month saw another loss for the Flyers as they fell to the Islanders, 2-1, in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center.
For the first time in March, the Flyers held the opposition to under three goals. It wasn't good enough for a victory but it may have been their most complete game in a 4-7-1 stretch this month.
"We came to play tonight," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Right from the beginning, I think we were responsible, we had several good opportunities tonight. Their goaltender was obviously a big part of their win."
The Flyers (15-11-4) got Sean Couturier back in the lineup after he missed the previous game with a hip injury.
Vigneault's club is within two points of the Bruins, who haven't played since March 18 because of the NHL's COVID protocols and hold the final playoff spot in the East Division. Boston has two games in hand on the Flyers. Speaking of games in hand, the Flyers are six points back of the third-place Penguins but have played two fewer games than Pittsburgh.
The Islanders (21-8-4) have taken the last two meetings from the Flyers, who won the first three.
• On New York's overtime winner, Joel Farabee and Shayne Gostisbehere misconnected on a pass. The Islanders jumped on the turnover and finished the Flyers off with a wraparound goal by Anthony Beauvillier.
It's hard to pin that solely on either player. Both had to be much better on that play and the ensuing recovery. They weren't and it cost the Flyers a chance at two points.
• The Flyers can absolutely build off that game. But will they? Monday's performance was a bona-fide effort from the Flyers, particularly on the heels of a 6-1 laugher against that same team.
New York came into the Wells Fargo Center with the NHL's best point percentage (.783) since the start of February.
The Flyers outshot the Islanders 37-20 and truly dictated the game.
The problem is those performances have been hit or miss. They come and they go.
The Flyers have a juicy opportunity ahead of them to wrap up March. Everyone will have to wait and see which team shows up. It's hard to expect anything right now.
"Our guys want to win," Vigneault said. "They want to play well and they want to be responsible. They got themselves ready today to play and have a good game, which I thought we did. In my estimation, we should have scored more than one. We had some outnumber situations there where we didn’t quite execute, but we had some real good looks. At the end of the night, their goaltender was the difference tonight."
• One positive to the Flyers' gloomy March: Oskar Lindblom has started to heat up.
Lindblom has three goals over the last three games. He went to the net in the second period Monday night and Claude Giroux found him to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Giroux and Lindblom have read each other well over their last three games together on the same line.
The 24-year-old Lindblom is starting to show more and more signs from his impressive start to last season, a breakout that was halted because of his diagnosis with Ewing's sarcoma.
• Brian Elliott, who was pulled in his previous two starts, stopped 18 of 20 shots.
In the second period of a scoreless game, Elliott bailed out the Flyers on their first power play. The Islanders' forecheck forced a turnover on Erik Gustafsson and New York nearly scored shorthanded. Elliott turned away Josh Bailey as the Flyers avoided what would have been a spirit-crushing sequence.
The Flyers grabbed the crucial 1-0 lead a little under nine minutes later, in large thanks to Elliott's save.
The Islanders broke Elliott four-plus minutes into the third period when it appeared the veteran thought he had a puck covered. Instead, it was wedged loose and Oliver Wahlstrom deposited it into the net to the surprise of Elliott.
New York netminder Ilya Sorokin was brilliant with 36 saves on 37 shots.
"It was a really good game from a lot of aspects from our team," Elliott said. "We don't like the result, but it's a good building block and I think that shows us how we need to play on a nightly basis."
• Late in the first period, the fourth line of Michael Raffl, Nolan Patrick and Nicolas Aube-Kubel created a great chance. After Raffl ignited the play, Aube-Kubel then found Patrick streaking to the net, but the 22-year-old center was denied by Sorokin.
Patrick banged his stick as he got to the bench. He would have loved to have punctuated that one. Patrick has one point (a goal) in the last 23 games, but in the grand scheme of his progress, those chances are good to see from him in fourth-line minutes.
The Flyers outshot New York 12-4 in the first period but didn't have anything to show for it.
• Following a three-game benching, Gostisbehere returned to the lineup and played 20:58 minutes. Vigneault liked Gostisbehere's activity and competitiveness.
Gostisbehere blocked three shots but was on the ice for New York's overtime winner.
• The Flyers are right back at it Tuesday when they host the Devils (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). The Flyers are 4-1-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets.
Starting Tuesday night, the Flyers play their final five games of March against the bottom three clubs in the East Division. They have to take advantage of it.
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