In the second game of 2023-2024, John Tortorella tested his lineup with a new wrinkle.
At the Canadian Tire Centre against the Ottawa Senators, the Philadelphia Flyers hoped to win consecutive games on their road trip. Noah Cates and Owen Tippett played their 100th game as members of the Flyers. Here’s how it all happened in Ottawa:
Philadelphia Flyers at Ottawa Senators
The Senators put the Flyers on their heels early. Jakob Chychrun positioned himself open at the point while Zack MacEwen engaged in a puck battle in the corner of their offensive zone. MacEwen found Chychrun, who uncorked a shot past Carter Hart, 1-0, with 17:27 remaining in the first period.
Over the next five minutes, the Flyers did match the Senators’ tenacity. Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee were notable in the neutral and defensive zone, disrupting the Senators’ five-on-five push. Perhaps Couturier was too noticeable, serving a debatable penalty for boarding.
Yesterday, DJ Smith said he intended to keep Chychrun at the one-timer position on the powerplay, emphasizing that the powerplay unit will score, but if they want to be among the top 10 in the NHL, both have to. From the one-timer position, Chychrun converted a one-timer, 2-0, with 9:13 remaining after a slick pass from Vladimir Tarasenko.
“Our powerplay, it’s been one game against one of the top penalty-killing teams in the league. We did have a couple of grade-A scoring chances; didn’t score. That unit’s going to score, but we need both units to score if you’re going to be successful in the NHL. [If] you want to be a top ten powerplay, both units got to score.”DJ Smith; 10/13/2023
Then, the Flyers were able to capitalize on a five-on-three powerplay. Drake Batherson and Claude Giroux served time in the penalty box, and Travis Konecny rose to the occasion. On the powerplay, Foerster took a shot on goal on Anton Forsberg, who made the save, but Konecny cleaned up the rebound, 2-1, with 3:09 remaining in the first period.
Though the Flyers began the second period with a four-on-three powerplay, they didn’t maintain momentum. The Senators were all over the Flyers, forcing them into the defensive zone with forechecking. Hart made incredible saves in the second period to keep his team in the game, including one on Tarasenko with his shoulder.
Again, penalties haunt the Flyers. Foerster served for slashing, and Jake Sanderson stepped up for the Senators’ powerplay. Like Chychrun, Sanderson blasted a shot from the point, 3-1, with 3:48 remaining in the second period. Tarasenko earned his second powerplay point with the assist.
“We were trying to read off each other, and a powerplay like this that moves the puck so well; gets the puck to the net quickly, and has one-timers set up like that. That’s where we lost the game. We have a lot to work on.”Garnet Hathaway; 10/14/2023
Almost immediately after Sanderson scored, Cam York answered. With 3:30 left in the second period. York entered the offensive zone, played the puck off the board to himself, then finished on Forsberg, 3-2.
But, with :05 remaining in the second period, the Flyers couldn’t bring a one-goal deficit into the third period. Claude Giroux stripped Travis Sanheim in the defensive zone, taking the puck away before finding Brady Tkachuk. Tkachuk beat Hart, inadvertently screened by York, 4-2.
“I played that two-on-one; [and] was able to intercept it. When I went to spin up ice, Tkachuk spun away. I thought I had more time. G [Giroux] snuck in behind me and made a good play. It’s something that I got to bear down on in the last ten seconds of a period. I just got to clear the puck.”Travis Sanheim; 10/14/2023
Officials called the game tightly throughout, and it didn’t play to the Flyers’ strengths. Sanheim served a tick-tack call for interference. Tkachuk extended the lead on the powerplay, 5-2, with 18:28 remaining in the third period.
“Our penalty killing, our powerplay, our offense, our defense; we were outplayed in all categories tonight. We’ll look at the tape, dust ourselves off, and get ready for our game on Tuesday.”John Tortorella; 10/14/2023
There was a total lack of execution on defense, including the penalty kill. The lack of focus didn’t escape the offense either. Overall, it was a poor performance from a rebuilding franchise. These sorts of nights are expected to happen, especially this season. However, the Flyers need to find a way to approach their special teams.
“We played against a much more skilled team. We don’t even give ourselves a chance by taking that many penalties. [A] high skilled team, eight blocked shots; it’s not a good recipe. They had the puck most of the night.”John Tortorella; 10/14/2023
In a 5-2 loss to the Senators, the Flyers finished 2/5 on the penalty kill and 1/6 on the powerplay. The Senators dominated the second and third periods.
(Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP)