The Philadelphia Flyers seemed to be on the way to stealing a victory until they squandered their lead and lose in overtime.
These are the kind of games that hurt the most. After two periods and leading by two goals, the Philadelphia Flyers found themselves playing on their heels. After starting the third period with the lead on the Boston Bruins by two, the Flyers played to force overtime at the end of regulation. Defensive breakdowns allowed the Bruins to gain confidence on offense. Philadelphia allowed forty shots or more for the second game in the row.
A topsy-turvy opener
Entering the game, the Flyers were the worst-ranked team in shot differential. For a frame of reference, Philadelphia averaged almost twelve fewer shots than their opponents per game. Winning becomes an anomaly when you’re on the slim side of shooting. At the end of the first period, Boston accumulated fourteen shots on goal. The Flyers had three.
Undisciplined gameplay forced the issue for Philadelphia. It’s tough to create scoring opportunities when you’re playing a man-down. Coming into this game, the Bruins were only scoring on special teams. Carter Hart kept the Flyers in the game during a bad first period. At the end of the first, we were scoreless.
The Flyers pick up speed
Without a doubt, this was the best twenty minutes of hockey Philadelphia participated in this game. Boston threw their weight around all period long, but the Flyers played with resiliency. Multiple players on Philadelphia (Nolan Patrick, Mark Friedman, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel) showed signs of discomfort in the second period. Patrick was slow to recover after taking a high stick to the mouth from David Krejci, and Aube-Kubel seemed to skate with a limp after blocking a shot. Both returned, but Friedman wouldn’t after being slammed to the ice by Brad Marchand.
On the powerplay, Claude Giroux scored his first goal of the season. He followed a shot that rang of the crossbar by Jakub Voracek. There were almost two powerplay goals this period, but the second goal counted just after the penalty expired. James van Riemsdyk scored his first of the game with the assist from Kevin Hayes and Voracek. At the end of the second, the Flyers led, 2-0.
The Flyers lose momentum
Any momentum Philadelphia had disappeared quickly. This period felt like quicksand. By the fourth minute of the period, the Bruins sank the Flyers lead. Two quick goals by Jack Studnicka and Charlie Coyle spoiled Hart’s shutout bid. Boston had the momentum, and Philadelphia had to answer back.
They would from the stick of Travis Sanheim. On this shift, Sanheim was doing it all. He made a bruising hit in the defensive zone before the Flyers would regain control on offense. On this goal, Voracek tallied his 700th career NHL assist.
Scott Laughton served an untimely penalty, putting the Bruins back on the powerplay. Nick Ritchie made Philadelphia’s penalty-kill pay. His shot bounced off the top of Hart’s glove, finding the back of the net. The Flyers’ momentum was dead all over again. Not long after, Brandon Carlo put Boston ahead.
Down by a goal, Philadelphia collapsed defensively. The Bruins took a penalty, and the Flyers had seemingly one last powerplay opportunity to tie the game. Once again, van Riemsdyk pulled through, this time on the powerplay. Another assist from Voracek, who played quite the hockey game. The score was 4-4 at the end of regulation.
Tuukka Rask played lights out in the most important five minutes for either team. Hayes, Voracek, and Giroux all had high-percentage opportunities to score, but Rask denied them all. Hart played just as well, ultimately forcing a shootout. At one point, Patrick and Konecny were playing bone-tired, but their effort cleared the puck out of the defensive zone. Another player who had a great scoring chance was Sanheim, but he got denied from in close.
A Flyers Shootout
Both Rask and Hart were able to make saves on the first two shootout attempts. Jake DeBrusk scored first, beating Hart above the shoulder on the blocker side. He picked his corner. Philadelphia had one last opportunity, calling upon their captain. Rask made the save on Giroux, securing the victory for Boston, 5-4.
The Philadelphia Flyers (3-1-1) play their second game at the TD Garden Arena against the Boston Bruins (2-1-1) on Saturday. The game can be viewed on NBC Sports Philadelphia with the puck drop at 7pm.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre