Flyers take six points in ‘gauntlet,’ fall to Rangers in OT

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Flyers' Morgan Frost faceoff.
New York Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad (93) and Philadelphia Flyers’ Morgan Frost, wait for the puck drop on a faceoff during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 26, 2024 in New York. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

This seven-game gauntlet left the Philadelphia Flyers (36-27-10) in a pickle. On one hand, they did earn six points against the top of the NHL Eastern Conference. On the other, they finished 2-3-2 against postseason contenders in a seven-game series span, which only separates them from the Washington Capitals by one point in the NHL Metropolitan Division postseason push.

Overall, there are silver linings that cannot be omitted. Scott Laughton called out their performance versus the San Jose Sharks after dropping the opening game of this gauntlet to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Looking back, the Flyers avenged a prior loss to the Sharks with a win but didn’t seem to dominate in their performance:

“The last three games haven’t been good enough, even against San Jose. We get a win, but it’s not good enough at this time of year, especially in the stretch we’re in, and everyone’s got to look in the mirror and figure out what we need to do collectively as a group to get better because that’s, especially on home ice, just not good enough; it’s not hard enough.”

Scott Laughton; 3/14/2024

After that loss to the Maple Leafs, Philadelphia challenged every opponent to the final minute, winning or losing by a goal, except for the Florida Panthers last Sunday. The Panthers won at the Wells Fargo Center, 4-1, though the Flyers massively outplayed them.

Last night, Philadelphia didn’t accomplish what they did versus the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The New York Rangers (48-20-4) are on top of the NHL. The Flyers hadn’t beaten the Rangers since 2021-2022. If they finished New York last night, John Tortorella would’ve coached his lineup past two clubs that they hadn’t defeated in his tenure. One more chance remains at Madison Square Garden on April 11th.

If these two teams meet in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, prepare for a donnybrook.

Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers

Bobby Brink almost began the scoring after forcing a takeaway from Alexis Lafreniere on the forecheck. A tightly checked opening period between both teams didn’t contribute to the scoreboard. Adam Fox served a minor penalty for hooking, but Igor Shesterkin made a save on Owen Tippett, the only shooter on the Flyers’ first powerplay.

Laughton put Philadelphia ahead, 1-0. Jack Roslovic attempted to keep the puck in the neutral zone and onside, but Travis Sanheim recovered, passed to Travis Konecny, and then Konecny found a seam to Laughton for a wrist shot past Shesterkin.

Vincent Trocheck served a minor penalty for tripping. Tyson Foerster drew the first two penalties by the Rangers. Ryan Poehling added to the lead, deflecting the puck past Shesterkin, 2-0. Egor Zamula shook past Jimmy Vesey along the blue line, passed to Laugton, and instead of the one-timer, Laughton elected a shot-pass to Poehling for the tip. The Flyers finished 1/3 on the powerplay.

Foerster, who put New York in trouble on the penalty kill, served a minor for high-sticking. Mika Zibanejad, who makes himself at home against Philadelphia, received a pass from Artemi Panarin, set, and shot past Sam Ersson, 2-1. The Flyers finished 0/1 on the penalty kill.

Jonny Brodzinski tied the game early in the third period, 2-2. Kaapo Kakko stripped Erik Johnson of the puck, and Brodzinski took a wrist shot from point black on Ersson after a successful backdoor feed. Then, Lafreniere capitalized on a strange puck bounce above Ersson. Ersson lost sight of the puck, and when it landed, Lafreniere was there to clean up the odd rebound, 3-2.

Vesey ripped a low percentage, tight-angled shot off target, and the puck circled the boards to the neutral zone. Konecny recovered the rogue puck, electing to shoot in a two-on-one situation, 3-3. Then, Zac Jones served a minor penalty for high-sticking, putting Philadelphia back on the powerplay.

Earlier, the Flyers scored on the powerplay. This time, on the penalty kill, Trocheck got payback, 4-3. Zibanejad led a two-on-one with Trocheck. On a backhanded pass, Zibanejad cut the angle perfectly for a tip-in by Trocheck, patiently outwaiting Zamula on a slide, attempting to block the pass. This time, a shorthanded goal gave the Rangers another lead.

Tippett, similarly to Konecny, got on his horse after Morgan Frost sent a beautiful pass for the offensive zone entry. Zooming in on Shesterkin, Tippett shot a powerful backhand trickling past the goal line for another equalizer, 4-4.

These teams continued to trade goals. Panarin had his shot blocked by Konecny. The loose puck was recovered by Lafreniere and shot past Ersson, 5-4. That makes six goals between New York and Philadelphia in the third period, with one yet to come.

In the preview of this game, prop odds included Foerster under a point and Panarin scoring an anytime goal. Neither happened. Garnet Hathaway got into a dirty area, and his effort hit the post. Foerster tucked another game-tying goal to send this game into overtime, 5-5.

“It was a crazy third period after not a lot going on in the first forty [minutes]. They [the New York Rangers] scored some big goals. I just love the way we battled back. It was quite a roller coaster; up-and-down, highs and lows, but the fact that we kept scratching and clawing to get back into that game and get a point, too. It’s an awesome point; it’s an awesome effort by everybody.”

Brad Shaw; 3/26/2024

Heading into overtime, the Flyers outshot the Rangers. Tortorella felt pressure was critical in a three-on-three situation, and he is correct. He sent Noah Cates, Poehling, and Sanheim on the ice to win possession, but they didn’t. Instead, Fox received the puck at the point and uncorked the game-winner on Ersson, 6-5.

A hard-earned point kept Philadelphia above water in their postseason push, but Tortorella received criticism after putting Poehling back on the ice in overtime, who didn’t look completely healthy. Instead of putting a variant of his top line on the ice (Tippett, Frost, Konecny) with Sanheim, he chose his possessive forwards. In the last two overtime periods, Tortorella fell under this criticism. In Raleigh, against the Carolina Hurricanes, the criticism was a little more unjust because the Flyers did have possession but didn’t score.

“Poehls [Poehling] has been one of our best two-way players for the last, probably two, three months. He’s got a chance to win the faceoff and he’s responsible at both ends of the rink. He’s played well offensively and defensively. He’s earned the right to get out there. It obviously didn’t end the way we wanted. I think he’s the right guy to put out there. They’ve got two of their best offensive guys and one of the best offensive defensemen in the league in Fox out there as well. We have guys that we feel are going to play both ends of the rink really well, and it didn’t work out.”

Brad Shaw; 3/26/2024

Up Next

Next, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

(AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)