Flyers drop final game to Capitals, miss postseason

Flyers' Sam Ersson
Philadelphia Flyers’ Samuel Ersson, right, reacts after blocking a shot by Washington Capitals’ Anthony Mantha during a shootout in an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

All the stars had to align for the Philadelphia Flyers (38-33-11) to claim an NHL Stanley Cup Playoff berth. They had to defeat the Washington Capitals (40-31-11) in regulation and hope the Montreal Canadiens overcame the Detroit Red Wings all the same.

“I’m proud of the team [the Philadelphia Flyers]. They fought to the end.”

John Tortorella; 4/16/2024

The Canadiens led 4-3 in their battle with the Red Wings. Then, David Perron tied the game, 4-4, with :03 remaining. That eliminated the Flyers from postseason contention.

In real-time, John Tortorella pulled Sam Ersson for a six-on-five opportunity less than a minute after Montreal and Detroit were readying for overtime. The plan, had the Canadiens held on to their lead to win in regulation, was for Tortorella to pull Ersson for the man advantage because overtime was a death sentence. In a tied game, this was a desperation tactic to win the battle versus the Capitals and the clock. Three minutes remained, and if Philadelphia could afford an overtime result, Washington wouldn’t have had their postseason gift-wrapped with a bow.

“I get info on the Detroit game right after they [the Washington Capitals] scored their empty-netter. I think it happened pretty close together, but I was pulling him. I’m pulling him and that was the right time to pull him. [I] didn’t know anything was going on with Detroit at that time, but immediately after that, our video guys told us that Detroit just went to overtime.”

John Tortorella; 4/16/2024

Ironically, the Red Wings forcing overtime forced the hand of the Flyers, directly correlating to the end of postseason hopes for Detroit.

Alex Ovechkin and Erik Johnson served dueling deflection goals, deadlocking the scoreboard, 1-1. Dylan McIlrath tallied his only point of the 2023-2024 regular season, deflecting the puck off the shaft of Ovechkin’s stick. Egor Zamula answered, blasting a shot from the point into traffic, where Johnson earned credit for the deflection. Charlie Lindgren and Ersson weren’t easily fooled by the opposition, requiring greasy goals to budge the score. TJ Oshie scored the empty-net game-winner after Tortorella pulled Ersson, 2-1, ending a hard-fought game between both squads.

“One of the most encouraging things of it all is the last three games that Ers [Ersson] can go home in the summer with that. What was it, his fifty-first tonight? It’s ridiculous how much we played him, but he gets to go home feeling he rebounded and that he found himself again. That’s very encouraging.”

John Tortorella; 4/16/2024

Up Next

This concludes the 2023-2024 NHL season for the Philadelphia Flyers. Next are exit interviews from players, coaches, and the front office staff.