Working overtime: Kevin Hayes, Cam Atkinson lead Flyers to 2-1 win over Flames
Atkinson scored to win it 45 seconds into overtime. Hayes notched his first goal of the season.
In his first home game after coming off injured reserve on Nov. 13, Flyers center Kevin Hayes celebrated the occasion with his first goal of the season and a special tribute.
Less than five minutes into the second period, Hayes’ initial shot from the right faceoff circle was blocked by Calgary defenseman Rasmus Andersson, but the rebound came back his way and Hayes managed to find the open net to tie the game, 1-1.
After the puck slid across the line, Hayes raised his arms above his head in jubilation. Then, he immediately looked skyward and pointed up, likely in honor of his late brother, Jimmy.
“I’m happy it happened sooner rather than later, honestly,” Hayes said. “It was a big goal. Trainers got the puck for me. I’m gonna give it to Jimmy’s kid, Jimmy’s son Beau. It’ll be one I’ll remember for forever.”
His goal helped the Flyers build momentum into the third period and overtime, when Cam Atkinson scored the winning goal in the Flyers’ 2-1 victory over the Flames at the Wells Fargo Center. The goal came 45 seconds into overtime. Atkinson, who played at Boston College with both Kevin and Jimmy Hayes, was grateful to share a meaningful night with his longtime friend.
“I know how special that goal was for Kev,” Atkinson said, with Hayes by his side. “So, I was just happy to be a part of it. Love this guy here.”
The night nearly took a scary turn for Hayes. Late in the second period while the Flyers were on the power play, Hayes collided with Elias Lindholm in the offensive zone, skated off the ice in pain, and immediately headed to the locker room. However, Hayes returned for the third period and appeared unhindered.
Taking away time and space
When the Flyers ventured out to Calgary for their first meeting this season, they became well-acquainted with the Flames’ ability to limit their opponents’ time and space with the puck. The Flames are ranked fourth in the NHL in five-on-five Corsi For percentage, which is an indicator of the team’s puck possession, at 54.4%.
During the first period, the Flames came out playing a tight-checking game. The Flyers struggled to exit their own zone cleanly and the Flames were able to take advantage early on. A contested Ivan Provorov pass from the blue line through the neutral zone was picked off by the Flames, which created an offensive-zone opportunity that ended in their only goal of the game, scored by defenseman Oliver Kylington.
However, in the second and third periods, the Flyers had more success on their breakouts and were able to sustain offensive pressure. They finished with a 61.76% Corsi For rate in the second and 62.5% in the third. Most importantly, they turned those shot attempts into goals with Hayes’ tying tally and Atkinson’s winner.
“I thought as the game wore on in the second period and especially in the third,” coach Alain Vigneault said, “Our execution, our ability to make plays in those small spaces got better. And we had some great looks.”
Hart stands tall
Coming off of a season-high save performance against the Carolina Hurricanes (39), goalie Carter Hart looked strong and poised in net once again against the Flames. Hart stopped 33 of 34 shots, many of them of the highlight variety.
Even when the Flames had odd-man, shorthanded rushes, Hart came up with the save. Late in the second period, a two-on-one developed with Lindholm and Mikael Backlund sprinting down the ice. Hart made the initial pad save on Lindholm, then quickly slid across the crease to deny Backlund.
Hart even held winger Johnny Gaudreau goalless. The South Jersey native finished the night with a team-high 10 shots on goal.
“He was shooting a lot of pucks tonight, from everywhere,” Hart said. “So, I mean, we were coming at him, but he’s a good player, and he likes to shoot pucks from any angle. So just got to be ready for it.”
Going into their game against the Flames, the Flyers were 3-for-30 in their last nine games on the power play. In the first period, the Flames gave the Flyers three opportunities to try to turn their fortunes around on the man advantage — once on a Backlund boarding call, another on an Andrew Mangiapane holding minor, and a third on a Matthew Tkachuk interference. The Tkachuk call came while the Flyers were on the second power play, which allowed them 31 seconds of five-on-three time.
The Flyers came up empty on all of their power-play opportunities in the first period and managed to put only four shots on goal in that span. The Flames even created a shorthanded two-on-one breakout, which developed after a Hayes cross-ice pass was intercepted in the Flyers’ offensive zone. Provorov played the rush well and Hart made the save.
The Flyers finished went 0-for-6 on the power play.
The Flyers take on the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, the Tampa Bay Lightning, on Thursday in the second game of their three-game homestand (7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia).