This all escalated very quickly. Hosting the hottest team in the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers needed to make a statement against the New York Islanders. After two periods, the feeling was that the Flyers had the game in the bag. Now, all that Philadelphia had to do was close out the Islanders. The inability to close games and play three full periods of quality hockey haunts the Orange and Black.
Opening the game, the Philadelphia Flyers jumped out to a quick lead. The first goal of the game was scored on the first shot taken by the Flyers. Oskar Lindblom connected with Sean Couturier, who converted. Later, Ivan Provorov scored on the powerplay, assisted by Matt Niskanen and Couturier. Provorov doesn’t hesitate to shoot from the point, which was an improvement on the powerplay over Shayne Gostisbehere.
In the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers had to flex the penalty kill for the first time in the game. Joel Farabee had the assist on the Oskar Lindblom goal to increase the Flyers lead, 3-0. Brian Elliott continued his dominant performance up to this point, but the New York Islanders offense was coming to life. In the first period, Philadelphia outshot the Islanders, 14-9. By the end of the second period, New York controlled that statistic, 22-18.
This is where it became ugly. The Philadelphia Flyers went on an early powerplay but didn’t convert. Anthony Beauvillier scored on a breakaway to end Brian Elliott’s shutout bid. Then, the Flyers penalty kill faltered when Mathew Barzal scored a powerplay goal following a heroic leg save on a shot by Ivan Provorov. Philadelphia couldn’t find a way to survive the third period, allowing the equalizing goal from Beauvillier.
Momentum was completely drained in the Wells Fargo Center. By the end of the third period, there were audible “Let’s go Islanders” chants from the traveling fans. At the end of the overtime period, the Philadelphia Flyers gained some momentum back. Now, Brian Elliott was the goaltender in a shootout against Thomas Griess. Jordan Eberle and Mathew Barzal scored on their shootout opportunities while Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux were denied their shots in a 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders.
Close The Door
While we were all swept up in a good point-streak the Philadelphia Flyers were a part of before the loss to the Ottawa Senators, those games shouldn’t have gone into overtime as often. The inability to close games is the true curse to this Flyers team. Philadelphia was up by three goals against the New York Islanders and squandered that in about ten minutes. If confusion on defense is what let such an ugly half period of hockey dictate the game, personnel needs to be accounted for. If the Flyers could close out the Islanders in regulation, they would be in reach of second place in the Metropolitan Division.
I touched on this very briefly in the “Spying on the Saboteur” piece before the Ottawa Senators game. Brian Elliott should have started the game against the Senators. This would allow him to be evaluated for additional starts. In the first five minutes of the first period, Elliott looked very rusty. In the final ten minutes of the third period, Elliott was getting peppered by a strong offense.
Carter Hart getting the start against the Ottawa Senators wasn’t needed. One could say Brian Elliott starting against the Senators would have provided Hart the start against the New York Islanders. With the three-goal advantage that the Philadelphia Flyers had, Hart may have just been the better play. Elliott didn’t have a bad game, so give him credit. The end of that third period wasn’t an accurate representation of Elliott’s body of work against the Islanders.
Ivan Provorov needs to be on the first powerplay unit. Heading into the game against the New York Islanders, he was listed on the second powerplay unit behind Shayne Gostisbehere. The difference between the two is the lack of hesitation between Provorov taking the shot and Gostisbehere possessing the puck too long. You have to capitalize on the powerplay. If Provorov could get more time during powerplay shifts than Gostisbehere, the extra man attack could be more dangerous.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers are at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida against the Florida Panthers. This game takes place on Tuesday, November 19th at 7:00 pm. Be sure to give a follow for more Flyers coverage at EricReesePSN on Twitter and follow Philly Sports Network at PhiladelphiaSN!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports