Following the 2023 NHL All-Star Weekend, the Philadelphia Flyers were back at it, hosting the New York Islanders for the final time this season.
As the rivalry ensues, the games become tighter in 2022-2023 between these two clubs. Unfortunately for the Flyers, chasing the Islanders in the NHL Metropolitan Division standings, they weren’t on the winning side of tonight’s decision.
Carter Hart faced immediate pressure, saved by Ivan Provorov in the opening minutes. The puck was on the goal line, but Provorov took two quick swipes to keep the tilt scoreless. James van Riemsdyk had a gift on the crease, set up by an odd-man rush, but couldn’t finish. Travis Konecny and Simon Holmstrom traded scoring chances, but it all came down to an interference penalty from Scott Laughton. Before the end of the first period, the Islanders converted on the powerplay when Josh Bailey dished to Kyle Palmieri for the go-ahead goal, 1-0.
Then, the Islanders began to invite Philadelphia back into the game. Kevin Hayes tried centering two passes on the powerplay, but both were incomplete. Around the halfway point of the contest, the momentum was up in the air due to how the Flyers began the second period. Then, Mathew Barzal displayed his speed in the defensive zone, getting wide open in the slot and scoring the eventual game-winner after Noah Dobson and Brock Nelson kept the forecheck alive, 2-0. Before the end of the second, Nicolas Deslauriers notched a deflection goal, giving Tony DeAngelo an assist from the blue line, 2-1.
Semyon Varlamov stole the show in the third period. Philadelphia had another unsuccessful powerplay, unable to advance a clean entry. Owen Tippett put Varlamov under stress, and the goaltender kept his cool with a glove save. John Tortorella pulled Hart for the six-on-five advantage, but Varlamov survived the flurry. The Islanders came into the Wells Fargo Center and defeated the Flyers, 2-1, to improve to 2-1-0 in the season series.
Almost Doesn’t Count
Philadelphia had scoring chances. Unfortunately for the offense, those chances ended up as ‘almost’ and not definite. A couple of missed opportunities for van Riemsdyk were heartbreaking, leaving one to audibly ask how the puck didn’t find the back of the net.
“We had a lot of ‘almost chances.’ We were a little sloppy offensively. It looked like we were going to get a chance; James has a couple tap-in’s that goes by him. A lot of ‘almost’ offensively.”John Tortorella; 2/6/2023
Deslauriers provided the offense, deflecting a shot by DeAngelo. If not Deslauriers, Patrick Brown was cutting across the crease to either screen Varlamov or execute a deflection. The fourth line got the Flyers back into the game.
“I shortened the bench because I decided to go with three lines other than there’s, trying to get our offensive people out there more.”John Tortorella; 2/6/2023
Tortorella wanted to get his scorers back in the flow by giving them extended shifts during the third period. He shortened the bench, excluding the fourth line that gave Philadelphia their only goal. Credit the Islanders for keeping the lead by checking hard because Tortorella endorsed them as a good test for the Flyers entering the last third of the 2022-2023 season.
“We’re going to find out about some people when we start playing these games here, in the checking part of it, because teams are going to ramp that up. It’s going to be really interesting to see how guys react.”John Tortorella; 2/6/2023
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, February 9th, 2022, at 7pm.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)