After controlling the game and leading for more than 11 minutes, the Flyers failed to capitalize on their best chance so far at winning in 2022 but came away with a point in a 4-3 shootout loss, which went to nine rounds against the New York Islanders Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
At the start, the Islanders maintained the momentum they built Monday night with their 4-1 win over the Flyers on Long Island. They came out with speed and got on the board quickly, just over two minutes into the game, when Robin Salo, who barely missed a goal Monday night, scored.
Two minutes later, the Islanders were given a chance to boost their lead when Joel Farabee was called for hooking. Instead, the Flyers killed the power play, and Farabee returned to apparently score a goal. While the Islanders challenged that it was offside and won the challenge, the Flyers built off of Farabee’s play.
After going nine minutes with just one weak shot, the Flyers came back to outshoot the Islanders 12-9 in the first period. One of those shots resulted in a power-play goal for James van Riemsdyk that tied the game.
While the Flyers controlled the pace of the second period, the Islanders took the lead when Josh Bailey reached around Travis Sanheim to tap the puck past Carter Hart. This time, it took the Flyers less than 30 seconds to respond. Travis Konecny, who hadn’t scored in 20 games before Monday, scored his second goal in two nights to tie it.
Monday, the Flyers weren’t able to capitalize on any of their rushes. Tuesday, Claude Giroux beat his defenders and the goalie to score the go-ahead in the third. They held onto the lead Casey Cizikas scored with 4 minutes, 28 seconds left in regulation.
The game stayed tied even after Sanheim was sent to the box in the final minutes. The penalty kill cleared the puck and blocked multiple shots to send the game to overtime.
Hart had multiple big saves to carry the Flyers through overtime. He added eight in the shootout, but the Flyers forwards weren’t able to score. They now have zero shootout goals this season.
No goal? No problem
Heading into the game, the Flyers were 2-16-2 in games when their opponent scored first. The Flyers gave up the first goal and they had their tying goal called back, but they didn’t let that bring them down like they have throughout the season.
After Salo scored early, the Flyers started to tighten up their game. They played better five-man defense and had better offensive-zone entries, one of which set up Farabee’s apparent goal that was nullified because Farabee just barely beat the puck over the line.
The Flyers kept up the energy and even improved their game after that. When they went on the power play — on which they went 0-for-4 against the Islanders the night before — they got off multiple shots, which put van Riemsdyk in a position to score.
“It doesn’t matter the score,” Giroux said. “It doesn’t matter if they scored or we scored, we just have to keep playing the same way, and we know that. So I think the last few games have been pretty good for that.”
While the Flyers lost, they controlled the pace of play for almost the entire game and came away with a point, which they’d only done twice through the losing streak.
Trust the process
Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Islanders wasn’t pretty. The players’ and the coach’s positive comments did not match the score nor the stats. But they insisted that they showed they were building good habits, and they proved it the next night.
The start of the game looked similar to the other games through the nine-game skid. But about halfway through the first, they kicked into gear and controlled the pace of the game. Rather than spending all their time in the defensive zone and having to dump the puck to be able to change shifts, the Flyers kept the puck in the offensive zone. And when they lost it, they kept the Islanders from setting up.
In other games, the Flyers have spent time in the offensive zone, but they didn’t look to the net and fell way behind in the shot count. This game, they shot, and they shot well. They had 11 high-danger chances to the Islanders’ six, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Konecny attributed his goal to what they’ve been building.
“I just put a lot of trust in everyone and that’s kind of how our line has been rolling right now,” he said. “Everyone do the right things and it will pay off for us and it just happens to be me in the last two games here. Our line has been sticking to it, playing the right way and we’re getting rewarded.”
‘It takes everyone’
Konecny spoke of the importance of every player putting in extra effort to be able to break the losing streak after No. 8 on Monday. The next day, eight players contributed to the scoring with at least one point each. The goals came from two lines and the power-play unit.
Defensively, the Flyers demonstrated the importance of playing together through both their successes and their failures. When all five men on the ice contributed, the Flyers were able to take back the puck quickly. They were able to create a number of breakaway chances through their strong defensive play.
However, they also had some defensive blunders that led to strong opportunities for the Islanders. While Hart was able to bail them out a number of times, each of the three goals was created by a defensive mistake. The Flyers rotated the pairings throughout the game, but that didn’t offset some of the struggles they had. Two also came from forwards getting beat.
Interim coach Mike Yeo said the leadership has helped the overall play. After seeing just spurts from players or having just one or two players on positive streaks, they felt the team as a whole played well.
“I’d say the easiest way to fix it is when you have leadership like we did today,” Yeo said. “I don’t think anybody else has a choice but to follow along.”
The Flyers host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday their first meeting this season.