Tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers took to the ice with an opportunity to avenge a previous loss to the Metropolitan Division rival, Washington Capitals, and a chance at stringing together back-to-back victories for the first time since November 8th, 2022.
Putting together another strong effort to complete the homestand, John Tortorella has his club earning victories in situations where they should. On a particular losing streak, the results weren’t breaking their way. A little healthier, the roster is paying dividends.
First, Kevin Hayes continues the best start to his NHL career, potting a powerplay goal. The powerplay nod is the fourth in three games, the best surge from the extra-man attack since the first four games of this season, where four powerplay goals accumulated.
TJ Oshie responded with a powerplay goal of his own, equalizing the score in the second period. It was the fourth extra-man opportunity for the Capitals. Poor discipline invited Washington back into the game, but Philadelphia settled down. Unfortunately, the Flyers couldn’t finish a few high-danger chances in the second. Travis Konecny had a frustrating period, missing twice on beating Charlie Lindgren.
Dylan Strome broke the tie score, deflecting a shot from John Carlson at the blue line. There were too many chances where Philadelphia couldn’t finish. Eventually, the playmakers for Washington found a way to beat an otherwise stubborn Carter Hart. Hayes couldn’t make magic happen twice; the post bailed out Lindgren on a late powerplay chance for the Flyers.
Tortorella pulled Hart with just over two minutes remaining in regulation for the extra attacker. Alexander Ovechkin extended the Capitals’ lead with an empty net goal. Before the final horn, Ovechkin added one more for good measure. That iced a victory to end the road trip for Washington, 4-1.
On the powerplay, Ovechkin is the top weapon. He parks in the faceoff circle, waiting for his chance to complete a wicked one-timer. Ovechkin had chances in the first period but no conversion when the penalty kill effectively clogged shooting lanes. Always posing a threat, Philadelphia forced Ovechkin outside near the blue line on the powerplay. Rasmus Ristolainen and Lukas Sedlak blocked a few opportunities.
Defensively, the structure was there. The Flyers continued to play hard, evident by the effort shown by Ristolainen.
“We’ve made strides defensively. The structure part of the game and cutting down on chances; when we were seven and whatever the hell we were, we were giving up twenty-five scoring chances a game. We’re into the twelve, fourteen, thirteen chances a game. That part of the game’s coming.”John Tortorella; 12/7/2022
In the final two minutes of regulation, Ovechkin did score two empty-net goals. Those are gifts. When Hart was between the pipes, he received support in front of him to mitigate the damage by Ovechkin. Konecny and Ovechkin got chippy after the second empty-net goal, but Tortorella didn’t give that attention; the game was over.
Powerplay Hayes (+)
Hayes put Philadelphia ahead in the first period. His powerplay goal was the fourth in three games, the best surge from the extra-man advantage all season.
In the third, Hayes had another chance that went off the post. Lindgren anticipated the shot, sprawling to close off the post. The first powerplay unit popped on the ice. Unfortunately, the second unit couldn’t pick up the pace, featuring James van Riemsdyk.
“Kevin has a chance to tie it up; I think it hits the post, I haven’t seen the replay. When we have those major chances, we need to score, because we just don’t generate a lot.”John Tortorella; 12/7/2022
Too Many Penalties (-)
As soon as Hayes gave the Flyers a lead on the powerplay in the first, it was squandered in the second period. Oshie blasted a one-timer, converting the final powerplay chance for the Capitals. In the first, Philadelphia killed three penalties. They began the second on the penalty kill, giving Peter Laviolette a chance to scheme during the first intermission to tie the game.
“Four penalties. Four penalties in the first twenty-five minutes of the game. Yeah, offensive zone penalties, neutral zone penalties, we’re still in the game.”John Tortorella; 12/7/2022
Then, after Washington grabbed the equalizer, the Flyers settled, becoming more disciplined. No more penalties, challenging the Capitals to beat them head-to-head, at even strength.
“It’s pretty much known that they can’t take anymore. We talked about it, but I just tell them, ‘can’t take any more penalties.”John Tortorella; 12/7/2022
Currently, the penalty kill for Philadelphia is in their second roughest stretch, allowing five powerplay goals in the last five games. Their worst stretch in 2022-2023? Eight in five games from November 12th, 2022 versus the Ottawa Senators to November 19th, 2022 against the Montreal Canadiens.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday, December 9th. The puck drops at 10pm.
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)