Despite a 7-6 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings (16-13-4) at the Little Caesars Arena, the Philadelphia Flyers (18-11-4) will not get coal in their stockings. One point wasn’t the gift John Tortorella put on his wish list, but make no doubt that his lineup nearly pulled a Christmas miracle.
Six different Flyers scored on James Reimer, who saved 37/43 shots on goal. Patrick Kane scored twice in the first period and added the deciding goal in the shootout, helping the Red Wings snap a four-game losing streak.
Detroit led 5-1 after the first period. They underestimated the drive and ability of the Philadelphia lineup. The comeback was one of the best in 2023-2024, and earning a hard-fought point, with perspective, isn’t a shabby Christmas gift.
Philadelphia Flyers at Detroit Red Wings
The first period was all Detroit.
Kane collected three points in the first period, two goals and an assist. His first goal came from a rebound off the post, 1-0, with 15:30 remaining. Kane scored on another loose puck with Alex DeBrincat at the crease. In traffic, the puck deflected away from Carter Hart toward the post for an easy finish by Kane, 2-0, with 11:44 remaining.
At least the Flyers got on the scoreboard, cutting the deficit. Joel Farabee received the puck in the offensive zone, then found Bobby Brink, who went five-hole on Reimer, 2-1, with 11:00 remaining in the first period. Brink notched his sixth goal of the season.
On their first powerplay, Moritz Seider made a brilliant play to Daniel Sprong, faking the slapshot with a pass for the easy tip-in, 3-1, with 4:55 remaining in the first period. JT Compher added another after the puck freed away from Hart, 4-1, with 4:22 remaining. Then, Shayne Gostisbehere called his shot, taking the feed off the lively boards and pinching his shot past Hart, 5-1, with :17 remaining.
Philadelphia made the climb back into the game. Nick Seeler and Christian Fischer got into it. Fischer hits Seeler into the boards, and a kerfuffle ensues. Taking issue with the hit, Seeler and Fischer did fight. Seeler received penalties for instigation, fighting, and a ten-minute misconduct, followed by a game misconduct.
If you’re keeping count, that is 27:00 worth of penalties for Seeler, long enough for his own Christmas special. Fischer received a fighting major (5:00).
That lit a fire under the Flyers. Travis Sanheim put a shot on goal from the point, and Sean Couturier deflected it past Reimer, 5-2, with 16:23 remaining in the second period. Then, a similar sequence began with Sanheim again, but Morgan Frost deflected the shot past Reimer, 5-3, with 15:59 remaining. Frost called his shot, tapping to get Sanheim to shoot for the deflection. Back-to-back goals from Couturier and Frost signified the rest of regulation would be anything but typical, creating a sensation that Philadelphia might just come back.
On the comeback, the Flyers penalty kill recovered, finishing 2/3. Hart recovered, too. He denied a backhanded chance by Kane, coupled with an intense checking shift by the fourth line. Garnet Hathaway cut the deficit again, 5-4, on a deflection with 14:09 remaining in the third period. Scott Laughton put the shot on goal for the deflection by Hathaway.
Laughton continued to bring the Flyers back to life. Tyson Foerster put a shot on goal, generating a rebound. Sinking the equalizer was Laughton, 5-5, with 6:30 remaining in the third period. Then, Owen Tippett, who is breaking out this season, gave Philadelphia a lead! Tippett put his rebound past Reimer, 6-5, with 5:07 remaining.
Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last. Dylan Larkin found a lot of puck luck, squeezing a shot from behind the goalline past Hart, 6-6, with 4:30 remaining. It was a goal that reminded Flyers fans of when Kane scored that infamous goal on Michael Leighton in 2010 to secure the Stanley Cup in Philadelphia.
In overtime, Hart made up for his first-period woes. He denied heavy scoring chances from DeBrincat and Gostisbehere to force a shootout.
“Up and down, all over the place. He [Hart] made some great saves at the end, though.”John Tortorella; 12/22/2023
Hart, in his return, stopped 31/37 shots on goal. Reimer denied Couturier and Brink in the shootout while Lucas Raymond and Kane converted their attempts. The Flyers leave the Motor City with a point toward the NHL standings but a 7-6 shootout loss.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers will visit the Vancouver Canucks on December 28th after they return from Christmas break.
(Photo Credit/Alex McIntyre)