While the Philadelphia Flyers (25-15-6) continued to battle, that’s about the only silver lining. Inconsistent play versus the Colorado Avalanche (30-14-3) kept them far enough away from tying the game, though they had to dig deep to battle out of a three-goal deficit.
Carter Hart was under siege all day. The shot totals don’t quite represent that; he faced fifteen shots on goal before being pulled ahead of the third period. Of those shots, six were recorded as high-danger scoring chances. Sam Ersson replaced Hart, faced nine shots, and surrendered a powerplay goal. A loss is a loss, and the Flyers will eat this experience.
“I thought we stayed resilient all night; kept battling. Not the end result; it’s a good thing we come back and play again tomorrow, and get right back at it and put it behind us.”Carter Hart; 1/20/2024
Logan O’Connor scored a hat trick. The first came on a distinct kicking motion on a puck already deflected. His contribution, a second deflection from his skate, redirected the puck past Hart, 1-0. Then, after killing a penalty, Mikko Rantanen found the soft spot in the defense as the man advantage expired, unleashing a one-timer set up by Nathan MacKinnon, 2-0.
“[In the] first period, they have three chances, they have two goals. Pucks are going in for them, and they’re good. They’re a good team at scoring goals, one of the top goal-scoring teams in the league.”John Tortorella; 1/20/2024
Down by a pair headed into the first intermission, Philadelphia played well. They controlled puck possession and had the larger share of high-danger scoring chances, along with shots, throughout the contest. A few momentary lapses and bad calls, controllable and uncontrollable aspects, created roadblocks.
An example of a controllable lapse is knowing when and where MacKinnon is on the ice when playing the Avalanche. He entered the ice, immediately got behind the defense, and converted his one-on-one opportunity against Hart, 3-0.
Joel Farabee did break the run. Morgan Frost pulled the defense to him, located behind Alexandar Georgiev, opening the low slot. Farabee cut through the slot to score 3-1. Frost generated good offense; this was the most impressive of his two assists.
O’Connor scored his second goal of the game. He blazed past Yegor Zamula, and Miles Wood put the puck on his tape for an easy tip-in, 4-1. Hart didn’t play the puck proactively, as it was close enough for him to disrupt if it made it past Frost’s outstretched stick, and it did. His reaction after the goal was allowed said he wanted that one back.
But Travis Konecny cut the deficit back to two. He circled back to the point on offense and ripped a wrist shot, 4-2. Then, MacKinnon stepped onto the ice late in the second period for only a few seconds into his shift and took a wrist shot from the point, around the relative distance from where Konecny scored, and the puck snuck past Hart, 5-2.
Tortorella saw enough of Hart, deciding to pull him. Enter Ersson and the third period.
“I felt we were in the game. It’s why I switched the goalie.”John Tortorella; 1/20/2024
Tyson Foerster sniped Georgiev, 5-3, after a heads-up play by Frost to serve a drop pass. Then, from downtown, Rasmus Ristolainen put a shot on goal, and Cam Atkinson redirected the puck, 5-4, to give everyone at the Wells Fargo Center a sense of a comeback.
An example of an uncontrollable call, other than the joke of a review on O’Connor’s first goal, was the hooking penalty called on Scott Laughton. Tortorella had choice words about the call following the game, but it put Colorado on the powerplay, and Rantanen scored one on each goaltender, 6-4. O’Connor cashed in on an empty-net goal, served on a gold platter down a red carpet by MacKinnon, 7-4, to complete his hat trick.
“If that’s [the hooking penalty on Laughton] what you want to call that, yeah, that hurt. I’m not so sure it’s a penalty.”John Tortorella; 1/20/2024
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Ottawa Senators tomorrow at 1pm.
(Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)