As frustration mounts, the Philadelphia Flyers lose another one to the New York Islanders in a shootout, 3-2.
Frustration is taking precedent amongst the Philadelphia Flyers franchise, even if they’re playing playoff teams close.
Time after time, the Flyers dig themselves into a hole with undisciplined hockey. Whether or not you agree with the five-minute-major and game-misconduct assessment of Samuel Morin, Philadelphia must play smarter. We’ve witnessed a more physical brand of hockey, but it’s been costly.
Playing from behind cannot happen. Teams like the New York Islanders set the pace for the rest of the NHL. Heading into last night, they had been the best franchise in the league since the beginning of February. Arguably, the Flyers were lucky to tie the game and force overtime.
During the post-game press conference, Alain Vigneault and Jakub Voracek had a bite to their responses. Admittedly, Philadelphia has played better in April. Two overtime losses in four games mean the Flyers pick up a point towards the standings, but the Mass Mutual Eastern Division standings act like quicksand. Philadelphia has played well enough to close the distance within the division in April but instead have faded. On and off the ice, frustration is the theme.
Here’s how in the latest shootout loss to the Islanders:
Beginning the game, the Flyers were sloppy. Ivan Provorov took the brunt of every Islanders regulation goal. Brock Nelson scored the first in the slot, spacing away from Provorov, who lost his man. After Nelson scored, Jordan Eberle made put the Islanders up by two goals. Both set up from behind the net, the latest when Provorov slipped to the ice, turning the puck over. Nelson and Eberle scored both goals before the halfway point of the first period, forcing Philadelphia to play from behind the rest of the game.
Down two goals, everything began to trend in the wrong direction for the Flyers. Morin, who has established the wrong kind of reputation in a short amount of time, was sent to the locker room after a poor hit on Casey Cizikas. The Islanders received a five-minute powerplay, to which Philadelphia surprisingly managed a bevy of scoring opportunities. Unfortunately, as he did all game, Ilya Sorokin made save after save.
Sorokin’s performance against the Flyers penalty-kill made Nicolas Aube-Kubel‘s goal stranger than it was. If Sorokin decided not to play the puck, it would have gone wide of the net. Luckily, the puck took a weird misdirection off the blocker and fell just under the crossbar as Philadelphia cut the deficit in half, 2-1.
Noticeably, the Flyers had an additional jump in their step in the second period. Claude Giroux and Voracek connected on an odd-man rush to tie the game, 2-2.
Aside from the period’s lone goal from Voracek, Robert Hagg deserved a lot of credit due to his defensive play. He sacrificed his body in the passing and shooting lanes to keep the Islanders off the scoreboard. Hagg helped Philadelphia possess the puck in the offensive zone, complementing the forecheck with Michael Raffl, Nolan Patrick, and Aube-Kubel.
Along with being the best NHL franchise since the beginning of February, the Islanders are also the best third-period team. They’re the best on home ice, something the Flyers were a season ago. Tonight was the fifth time Philadelphia forced the Islanders beyond regulation.
The Flyers were incredible on the penalty kill but couldn’t get the job done on the powerplay. Many times, the Islanders’ penalty kill wouldn’t allow an offensive entry by Philadelphia. In the third period, the Flyers had an opportunity to put a nail in the coffin in regulation. They adapted well to the Islanders’ brand of hockey but couldn’t solve Sorokin.
For the second time in a week, Carter Hart and Sorokin would go head-to-head in overtime.
Feel how you want to about Travis Konecny, but his two-hundred-foot game has drastically improved since Vigneault benched him on January 30th, 2020. Early in overtime, he took a hit from Nick Leddy. Immediately, he fought to regain possession. That’s defensive awareness in the neutral zone in recovery at its finest.
Hart remained remarkable in the overtime period, denying Mathew Barzal on a one-timer. While Kevin Hayes served a penalty for hooking, the Islanders finished overtime with a man advantage but couldn’t score the game-winner.
Flyers fall short in the Shootout
Furthering a goaltending masterclass, Sorokin and Hart forced five rounds in a shootout. Unfortunately, a puck dinged off the post when Nelson finally beat Hart. Philadelphia nearly scored earlier to defeat the Islanders, but Sorokin continued to make vital saves.
Up Next for the Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers are home against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, April 10th, 2021, at 2pm. The game will be on NBC Sports Philadelphia and ESPN+.