VANCOUVER, British Columbia – As the game got longer, the Flyers got better Saturday night in Vancouver, and they salvaged a point on Oskar Lindblom’s late power-play goal in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Canucks.
It could have been two points, but even Carter Hart, the 21-year-old goalie who appears headed for stardom, could not solve the franchise’s longtime albatross – the dreaded shootout. Hart allowed two goals on three shots in the shootout at Rogers Arena, while Claude Giroux was the only Flyer to score in the glorified penalty-shot competition. Hart stopped all five shootout shots he faced last season.
The Flyers are now an NHL-worst 45-84 in all-time shootouts, though they did go 3-1 last season.
Despite the loss, most of the players and head coach Alain Vigneault left the arena feeling good about themselves. They twice erased a one-goal deficit, dominated the third period, and now have five out of a possible six points on the young season.
“In my estimation, there were a lot of things to like about this game,” said Vigneault, whose 2-0-1 team plays in Calgary on Tuesday and in Edmonton on Wednesday. “I thought we came out well, and then we lost the momentum a little bit in the mid-first period. [There were] a couple of puck battles that we lost. In the second period, even though we didn’t get a lot of shots on net, I liked our puck-possession time. I liked some of the opportunities in the third. We pushed the pace.”
The Flyers had a 14-6 shots domination in the third period, and only superb goaltending by 6-foot-6, 206-pound goalie Jacob Markstrom (30 saves) prevented them from winning in regulation.
“I thought we took over,” center Sean Couturier said.
Lindblom tied it a 2-all by converting a slick Travis Konecny pass, whipping a one-timer from deep inside the left circle past Markstrom with 5 minutes, 2 seconds left in regulation.
“The point feels good,” Lindblom said, adding he didn’t like the Flyers’ start in the first period. "One point is better than zero.”
“After the second, we were a little frustrated with how we were playing,” Giroux said. “We knew we can play better. We were down, 2-1, but there was no panic. We kept to the game plan.”
In the shootout, Jake Voracek and Kevin Hayes were denied by Markstrom. Voracek had just 14:30 of ice time and played sparingly in the third period while on the fourth line. James van Riemsdyk moved to the top unit in the third.
Tanner Pearson scored what proved to be the winner in the shootout, putting a shot between Hart’s legs.
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“I honestly thought I read it the whole way,” Hart said. “I felt I had it, but my stick was a little bit off the ice and it just grazed the bottom of my stick. I have to make sure I keep my stick on the ice.”
Hart stopped 22 of 24 shots during the game, including Bo Horvat’s breakaway in overtime.
“I didn’t have a lot of work for probably a majority of the game. Most of my work came in overtime,” said Hart, who made five saves in the extra session. “That’s kudos to our group for how defensive we played, and how many shots and chances we generated on Markstrom, who played really well for them.”
One of the game’s highlights was Carsen Twarynski’s first NHL goal, which evened the score at 1-1 with 16:46 remaining in the second.
Twarynski, a 21-year-old rookie right winger, took a stretch pass from Justin Braun and fired a left-circle shot past Markstrom, beating him to the short side.
“It was nice to get that first one out of the way. ... It was a nice play by Brauner and we caught them in a line change,” Twarynski said. “Obviously, we came here to win games. We got a point tonight but would have loved two.”