PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers could not have scripted a better start to a hockey game. The New York Islanders could not have scripted one worse.
In a game both teams needed to win to stay afloat, the Flyers scored five first-period goals en route to a 6-3 rout over the Islanders on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
"You can't draw up a better start than that," said Flyers forward Dale Weise, who along with teammate Wayne Simmonds, recorded one goal, one assist and one fight in the opening period. "It makes you wonder where a couple of those have been all year."
"That was old-time hockey," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "At the end of the day, it's about getting two points."
Despite three straight wins, the Flyers (37-32-8) remained six points behind the Boston Bruins, who own the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with 88 points. The Islanders (35-29-12) lost for the third straight time and fell six points back.
"The few days leading up to this game, it was eating me up inside wanting to get back at it and get ourselves back in this," Islanders captain John Tavares said. "Hopefully, playing (Friday against New Jersey) we have that feeling after being embarrassed today and blowing an opportunity to get two points."
Islanders coach Doug Weight was vocal in his criticism of his players.
"It's absolutely floating, not engaged with anything," Weight said. "We worked (in the second and third periods), but it doesn't really matter. A piss-poor first.
"It's not like (the Flyers) made tic-tac-toe plays. They had four chances in the first and it's 5-0. Four! Do the math."
Sean Couturier and Simmonds each had a goal and two assists, Brayden Schenn picked up two assists, and Jordan Weal, Radko Gudas and Valtteri Filppula added goals for the Flyers.
It was also the third consecutive win for goaltender Steve Mason (38 saves), who improved to 25-21-7.
The Islanders have been outscored 11-5 in three defeats.
Jaroslav Halak surrendered two more goals on 21 shots in relief of Greiss. Filppula's goal was an empty-netter.
Both teams entered the game with their playoff lives at stake, but only the Flyers played like it.
Goals by Weise, Couturier and Gudas in the opening 8:06 chased Greiss.
Just 22 seconds after Gudas' goal, Weise dropped the gloves with fellow Manitoban Travis Hamonic to earn his second career "Gordie Howe hat trick."
"He asked me going up the ice," Weise said of Hamonic, who was injured in the fight and was seen with a cast on his left hand after the game. "I kind of got excited because I already had a goal and an assist. I couldn't say no to that one."
The Flyers greeted Halak by scoring on their first shot against him, with Weal netting his third goal in three games off a pass by Simmonds to give the Flyers a 4-0 lead. They weren't done yet.
With 4:18 remaining in the first period, a slap shot by Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere bounced off the right knee of Simmonds, then off the left hip of Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk and behind Halak. The goal was the 30th of the season for Simmonds, who waited just 4:11 before dropping his gloves with Anders Lee to pick up his fourth career "Gordie Howe hat trick."
The five goals were the most by the Flyers in a period this season. It was also the most goals allowed by the Islanders in one period.
"It was just an awful period," Boychuk said. "We have to be ready every period of every game this time of year. We're fighting for the playoffs. At the end of the day we can't give up five goals. The whole team has to be ready for the puck drop and we weren't."
The Islanders played much better in the second period, outshooting the Flyers 22-3, but had just one goal to show for it, Clutterbuck's fourth goal of the season and first since Dec. 26.
Simmonds added his second assist on Filppula's empty-net goal late in the third period.
-- Islanders D Johnny Boychuk saw his first action after missing 12 games with a lower-body injury. He replaced Thomas Hickey in the lineup. But with Travis Hamonic questionable with an upper-body injury suffered in the first period, Hickey may return to the lineup Friday night against the New Jersey Devils.
-- The Flyers have had their share of Gordie Howe hat tricks in their 50-year history, but Thursday marked just the third time two teammates had one in the same period. The two others came Jan. 9, 1972 (Bobby Clarke and Gary Dornhoefer in 10-3 win over the Oakland Seals) and on Jan. 5, 1985 (Rick Tocchet and Lindsay Carson in a 6-3 win over the St. Louis Blues).
-- The Flyers conclude their three-game homestand Saturday night when they face the Devils. They close out the regular season with games against the Rangers, Devils, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes.
-- Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee watched the game from the press box.