The Philadelphia Flyers had an uphill battle to face versus the New York Rangers. Here’s how it went down at the Wells Fargo Center:
After practicing once in the last ten days and missing six starters, the Philadelphia Flyers suffered a shootout loss to the New York Rangers. Playing into an overtime period allowed the Flyers to pick up a point in the Mass Mutual Eastern Division standings. Considering the amount of players quarantining because of the COVID protocol, Philadelphia did not perform poorly. There were times that they were able to put pressure on the Rangers defense.
Carter Hart logged his best performance since the first series of the season versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Defensively, Ivan Provorov and Philippe Myers played a vital role in forcing overtime and the shootout. The Flyers forwards generated shots, but the Rangers did not offer many open looks at Alexandar Georgiev. Heading into tonight, Philadelphia was ranked third in the NHL in missed shots (off-target or blocked.) The Rangers emphasized that tonight on the way to picking up the shootout victory.
Flyers Start Hot In the First
Starting hot out of the locker room, Nicolas Aube-Kubel slipped the puck past Georgiev. Before the first minute of the first period elapsed, Aube-Kubel and Michael Raffl created heavy traffic on the crease. The Flyers needed an extraordinary performance from their top-six. A scoring play early on from the second-line set the tone for Philadelphia in the first period.
Towards the end of the first period, the Flyers served two simultaneous penalties. Robert Hagg and Andy Andreoff served for holding and roughing on the same sequence. Luckily, Chris Kreider committed a misconduct penalty, breaking up the five-on-three advantage. Philadelphia would begin the second period on the powerplay with a 1-0 lead.
Undisciplined Play Haunts the Flyers
In the first period, the Flyers had a hot start. To begin the second period, the Rangers answered. Kevin Hayes served a minor penalty for tripping, which cost Philadelphia. Colin Blackwell tied the game on the powerplay. Throughout the second period, the Flyers became undisciplined.
Alain Vigneault has been open about his expectations for Philadelphia to play more physically. Andreoff and Myers were two of the most physical Flyers players on the ice. Erik Gustafsson had an opportunity to light up the team with a hit along the boards but made no contact. In a tight game, physical play can shift momentum. Not playing the body in that scenario was as frustrating as not converting on the powerplay.
Moments later, Hart doubled-down on Pavel Buchnevich. He made a sprawling save on Buchnevich, who had a breakaway opportunity. Buchnevich earned a penalty shot along the way. Once again, Hart turned away Buchnevich on the penalty shot, keeping the score deadlocked, 1-1.
Flyers Flex Resilience
Philadelphia could have easily been behind, 3-1, at the end of the second period. The Rangers dictated the pace of the game, leading 23-13 in shots on goal. Just before the halfway point of the period, Brendan Smith provided the first lead for the Rangers. Hart was out of position after the puck took a great bounce across the crease from Artemi Panarin.
For as many penalties the Flyers committed, their penalty-kill unit played exceptionally well. Unfortunately, the powerplay unit was stone cold. In the final minutes of regulation, Hart left the goal to create a six-on-five scenario. Joel Farabee, much like Aube-Kubel, forced the puck past Georgiev on the crease. Every scoring play came from the top-six forwards for Philadelphia. Onward to overtime with the score tied, 2-2.
Panarin Scores Shootout Winner
Following an overtime period where Hart and Provorov were incredible, two points would go to the team who won in a shootout. In each of their two shootout opportunities, the Rangers were able to sneak the puck behind Hart. First, Kaapo Kakko beat Hart. Sean Couturier answered with a goal. In the end, Panarin scored, and James van Riemsdyk couldn’t respond. The Rangers held on, 3-2.
Next, the Flyers head to Lake Tahoe to face the Boston Bruins. The puck drop is 3pm on February 21st, 2021. The game will be aired nationally on NBC.