Undoubtedly, putting the third-ranked Edmonton Oilers power play on five man-advantage opportunities wasn’t part of the game plan for interim coach Mike Yeo and the Flyers. However, a slew of four tripping penalties and one for high-sticking sent the Flyers to the kill in the first and second periods alone.
While the Flyers only conceded a single power-play goal in their 3-0 loss to the Oilers on Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, spending 10 minutes shorthanded didn’t help them get on the attack quickly and keep their opponent from getting to their game.
The first line of Claude Giroux, Cam Atkinson, and Joel Farabee created several scoring chances for the Flyers and spent the most time in the Oilers’ zone, generating 21 shot attempts to the opponents’ five when they were on the ice together, per Natural Stat Trick. Nonetheless, Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen denied all 39 of the Flyers’ shots on goal, mostly from the outside, to earn his sixth career shutout.
“There were some opportunities that we had looks that we could have been crisper, been able to take advantage of those opportunities,” Yeo said. “But I do think that a lot of what we had was from the perimeter, a lot of what we had was from the outside tonight.”
Thanks to goals from Leon Draisaitl, Kailer Yamamoto, and an empty-netter from Connor McDavid, the Oilers handed the Flyers’ their 27th regulation loss of the season. Now, the Flyers have not won consecutive games since their victories over the Los Angeles Kings and the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 29 and Feb. 1.
Penalties a problem
Roughly 30 seconds into the first period, the Flyers got to see the Oilers’ formidable power play up close thanks to a Scott Laughton tripping minor. The Flyers’ 27th-ranked penalty kill held the Oilers to a single shot on goal, escaping an early deficit.
However, in the waning minutes of the first period, the Flyers went back on the penalty kill when Oskar Lindblom was called for tripping. This time, the Oilers capitalized on their man-advantage opportunity. Draisaitl notched his 16th power-play goal of the season on a shot from the blue line that appeared to be redirected up front.
“We know they’ve got two of the best players in the league, so you want to try to stay out of the box as much as you can,” Flyers goalie Carter Hart said. “Tonight, we were in the box a little bit, but I thought our PK did a really good job for the most part. Obviously that one breakdown on the first goal, but the rest of the game, our PK was solid.”
Five-on-three unsuccessful, again
Meanwhile, the Oilers committed two penalties in the first period, too, resulting in one- and two-man advantage time for the Flyers. Yeo went with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen on the ice at five-on-three in place of Atkinson.
Looking for their first five-on-three goal of the season, the Flyers put four shots on goal during 51 seconds on the two-man advantage. However, the Flyers failed to capitalize on either opportunity. One of the Flyers’ best scoring chances came when the rebound from Giroux’s shot sat in the crease for James van Riemsdyk to clean up, but an Oilers penalty killer was able to clear the puck and prevent van Riemsdyk from scoring on an open net.
“Tonight, we had some good looks,” Giroux said. “It’s just we can’t finish. Not just on the five-on-three, but five-on-five, we had some great looks. We just need to find a way to bear down and put it in.”
In addition to scoring an empty-net goal, McDavid factored in on Draisaitl’s first-period power-play goal with a secondary assist for two points on the night. His effortless ability to generate offense was most apparent on the power play. On one man-advantage opportunity in the second period, McDavid skated through all four Flyers penalty killers with the puck on his stick. Ristolainen managed to tie up McDavid’s stick at the crease, allowing Hart to get a pad on his forehand shot.
However, the Flyers found some success in stifling McDavid. With 5½ minutes to go in the second period, Darnell Nurse passed the puck ahead to McDavid in the neutral zone. Milliseconds after McDavid crossed the blue line into the Flyers’ zone, defenseman Justin Braun stripped him of the puck and sent a long pass to Farabee just shy of the Oilers’ zone.
“I thought the forwards did a really good job staying on top of McDavid coming through the neutral zone,” Braun said. “He had a couple decent rushes, but I think back pressure was good.”
The Flyers return to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday for their 7 p.m. game against the Minnesota Wild.