After an 11-day layoff thanks to an extended holiday break, the Flyers took a crack at extending their five-game point streak Wednesday night against the Seattle Kraken.
Their crack wasn’t all that powerful, but solid goaltending from Martin Jones allowed the Flyers to stay in the game and come up with a 3-2 overtime victory.
“In the first two periods, we turned over too many pucks,” captain Claude Giroux said. “We weren’t supporting each other and not winning battles. It was pretty bad and Jonesy kept us in the game. In the third, I thought we played a little bit more how we want to play as a team.”
With the game tied at 1-1 after the first two periods, the Flyers faced a win a period, win a game scenario. This season, the team has managed that situation with success — their record when tied after two was 6-1-1 entering Wednesday.
After a Seattle goal was waved off in the third period due to goalie interference thanks to a successful challenge from interim head coach Mike Yeo, the Flyers began to test goalie Philipp Grubauer more frequently. After Jeremy Lauzon scored to put the Kraken up 2-1, James van Riemsdyk nabbed the equalizer just 15 seconds later for his second goal of the night.
Finally, defenseman Ivan Provorov scored off a stretch pass from center Kevin Hayes to end the Flyers’ third-straight overtime game, earning them a win to start their four-game West Coast road trip.
“We made it way too hard on ourselves at different times,” Yeo said. “We forced ourselves to show more character than maybe we even needed. But that’s a big two points for us, especially giving up the goal fairly late and then finding a way to come back and win that game.”
Jones keeps the Flyers in the game
Throughout most of the first 40 minutes of the game at even strength, the Flyers took up residency in their own zone, struggling to gain control of the puck and transition cleanly through the neutral zone. The Flyers didn’t register their first shot on goal of the second period until 11 minutes and 17 seconds had elapsed. Conversely, the Kraken pummeled Jones with shots, registering 23 on goal through two periods.
When the Flyers couldn’t muster an offensive attack, Jones helped the team stay in the game by keeping the score even at 1-1 heading into the third period. One of Jones’ most critical saves came in the second period when the Kraken went on their second power play of the night. Captain Mark Giordano’s blast from the blue line made its way through traffic, but Jones managed to come up with the save and keep the Kraken from pulling ahead. In total, Jones denied 34 of 36 shots on goal, marking the seventh game this season in which he’s faced 30 shots or more.
“We probably played too much in our own end, but I thought we did a decent job at defending,” Jones said. “We weren’t giving up odd-man rushes or high-end, Grade-A chances. So obviously we’d like to build off how we played in the third and spend a little more time in the O zone.”
Giroux makes history, again
On Dec. 30, 2008, 20-year-old Giroux earned his first career point, notching an assist on Jeff Carter’s goal against the Vancouver Canucks. Almost 13 years later, Giroux tallied assist No. 600 by setting up van Riemsdyk for a power-play goal. Giroux patiently held the puck at the left face-off circle, timing a pass perfectly for a van Riemsdyk one-timer.
That assist brought Giroux’s scoring total to 884 points, moving him past Bill Barber on the franchise all-time scoring list and into sole possession of second place. Now, Bobby Clarke (1,210 points) is the only Flyer who has scored more than Giroux in franchise history. Giroux earned another milestone on Dec. 10 against the Vegas Golden Knights when he set a new franchise record for power-play points, with his 334th (an assist on Sean Couturier’s goal).
“To be able to pass Bill Barber, it’s a great honor,” Giroux said. “He’s a legend in Philly. Got a chance to meet him a few times. It’s obviously great. I never thought I’d be passing him.”
Power play trends up, penalty kill falters
Since Yeo took over on Dec. 6, the Flyers had scored on 26.7% of their power-play opportunities, ranking 12th in the league throughout that stretch. In total, the Flyers had scored on 15.85% of their power plays for the season (26th in the league). The newfound trend of success continued early in the game for the Flyers — one of the few positives in a first period, during which the Kraken controlled even-strength puck possession and jumped out to a 12-6 shots advantage, was Philadelphia’s power play. Fifteen seconds into the Flyers’ first man advantage of the night, van Riemsdyk fired a one-timer from the slot past Grubauer. The Flyers finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play.
While the Flyers have taken strides on the power play, the penalty kill has faltered a step since Yeo assumed the role of interim coach. Going into the Kraken game, the Flyers killed 78.3% of man advantages (17th in the league), a drop-off from their season-long rate (81.52%, 11th in the league). Those recent woes continued in the first period when center Yanni Gourde’s one-timer from the top of the right face-off circle beat Jones to tie the game at 1-1. Through 60 minutes, the Flyers allowed one power-play goal on three Kraken man-advantage opportunities.
The Flyers’ four-game West Coast road trip continues when they head to San Jose on Thursday night to play against the Sharks at 10:30 (NBC Sports Philadelphia).