Riding on momentum after consecutive wins on home ice versus the Canucks and Oilers, John Tortorella has the Philadelphia Flyers playing a sustainable brand of hardnosed hockey to begin the 2023-2024 season.
On the road against the Stars is a tough place to test the youth. Tortorella didn’t have much of a choice but was confident his younger skaters were ready to compete.
“They’re [Zamula and Andrae] going to be in the fire here tonight, and the next game, that’s for sure. Two pretty good teams. This is what we’re doing it for. I don’t think any of the kids are intimidated by the league.”John Tortorella; 10/21/2023
Peter DeBoer is aware of how tough a team coached by Tortorella plays. He knew how much pressure they would face and that the Flyers were out to prove they could surprise many people. The lead never changed on the scoreboard, but the Dallas Stars were never comfortable.
Philadelphia Flyers at Dallas Stars
Wyatt Johnston put the Stars out to an early lead. Scott Laughton fired a shot wide of Scott Wedgewood, and then Jamie Benn cleared his defensive zone. Johnston stole the puck from Nick Seeler while entering on offense, then sniped Sam Ersson on the stick side, 1-0, with 15:58 remaining in the first period.
Tyler Seguin extended the Stars lead. Ryan Suter flipped the puck where Travis Sanheim was overwhelmed by Seguin and Mason Marchment. Tied up with Marchment, Seguin converted the loose puck into a scoring play, 2-0, with 12:08 remaining in the first period.
Joel Farabee cut the deficit in half. Noah Cates put the initial shot on goal, and Bobby Brink dished the puck over to Farabee for the tip-in, 2-1, with 9:48 remaining in the first period. Until this moment, the Flyers lagged. Brink and Farabee combined to drag Philadelphia back into the fight.
Cam York and Sanheim began to get involved in the offensive zone along the blue line. Unfortunately, York would serve a minor penalty for tripping Marchment.
It was unfortunate for the Stars, not the Flyers. Konecny cashed in on a timely defensive play; Cates broke up a pass by Miro Heiskanen. On a breakaway, Konecny took his shot on Wedgewood, 2-2, with 3:24 remaining in the first period.
One of the areas where Philadelphia struggled was at the faceoff dot. The Stars won the faceoff to begin the second period and turned an immediate transition from the defensive to the offensive zone into another lead. Jason Robertson led Roope Hintz on the entry, then Hintz beat Ersson with a great shot, 3-2, with 19:30 remaining in the second period.
Seguin had an opportunity to stretch the lead after a long stretch pass, but he rang the puck off the post. Wedgewood stopped a breakaway chance by Farabee, saving a five-hole opportunity. The Stars were not careful with the puck throughout the rest of the second period, leading to Wedgewood bailing them out of dangerous scoring chances from the Flyers. He stood his ground as Owen Tippett continued pressure, especially on the powerplay.
Matt Duchene had an early opportunity in the third period on Ersson, but the save was made. Esa Lindell flipped the puck in stride into the offensive zone, creating a short breakaway for Duchene. The Stars were very crafty with flip passing from defensemen. Benn tried another lead pass to Johnston, but Farabee read it better than Seeler, leveling Johnston with a body check.
Johnston accepted the challenge from DeBoer to take on a sought-after role with the Stars. His fingerprints were all over scoring plays, including one finished by Benn. Benn accepted the puck played off the boards by Johnston, entered with the puck, and beat Ersson on the stick side, 4-2, with 9:24 remaining in the third period. Hintz and Benn scored from similar angles, taking almost exact routes with the puck to beat Ersson.
“It’s just goals I got to have. Five pucks in is not something I hold to my standards. Just, I got to be better.”Sam Ersson; 10/21/2023
York served a minor penalty for interference, drawn by Duchene. Earlier, Konecny scored shorthanded while York served for tripping Marchment. He did it again, served up by Sanheim, who made a decision akin to Brink, slipping a pass off a rebound over to Konecny for the one-timer, 4-3, with 8:02 remaining in the third period.
Konecny already made shorthanded magic twice in Dallas. Duchene broke his stick while the Stars tried moving the puck on the powerplay. Yegor Zamula pushed the puck to Sean Walker. Walker tied the game, 4-4, with 7:15 remaining in the third period. It was the third shorthanded goal of the game for the Flyers.
“The bench was good all night. We’ve been coming back all night long; never had the lead. They just kept on playing. One of the things we talked about before the game, especially in this building, they can get them revved up pretty good here. You just got to handle some of the momentum swings, and just keep playing. I really liked how our team handled itself as far as staying with themselves and trying to find a way to crawl back in.”John Tortorella; 10/21/2023
Laughton and Nils Lundkvist ran heavy into the boards but popped back up behind Wedgewood. The collision looked a lot worse than the reaction from the skaters. Brink nearly converted a wrap-around attempt, and Cates had a good chance on a rebound, but Wedgewood closed the glove on a possible lead change. The Flyers were full of moxy after tying the game and forcing overtime.
A tenacious effort fell short in overtime. Laughton, Konecny, and Sanheim began the three-on-three period for the Flyers. Robertson and Hintz had the chance to combine efforts on a one-timer, but Ersson committed theft with a glove save.
“We just stayed with it. You [would] like to get both points, but we stayed in the game, handled some of the momentum swings, and found a way to get back in to tie it.”John Tortorella; 10/21/2023
On the ensuing faceoff, Joe Pavelski was victorious at the dot. He shielded the puck to Johnston, then broke for Ersson, sealing the victory for the Stars, 5-4. The play design and execution by Pavelski was mint for the overtime finish.
Next, the Flyers will take on the Vegas Golden Knights at the T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday. The puck drops at 11pm.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)