Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick carrying Flyers on road trip
Young forwards Oskar Lindblom and Nolan Patrick have led the Flyers to a 2-0-1 record on their current road trip.
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Flyers collected five out of a possible six points in their three games in California, and young forwards Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom were a big reason for their success.
No Flyers played more important roles.
Lindblom, 22, had five points (goal, four assists) as the Flyers defeated Anaheim and Los Angeles before earning a point in a 4-3 overtime loss Saturday in San Jose. The rookie left winger has had two points in each of the last two games.
Patrick, 20, who centers Lindblom and Jake Voracek, also had five points in the three games, collecting a pair of goals and three assists.
Lindblom and Patrick played together at times last season and seem to have developed good chemistry this year.
"He's a smart player; he sees the ice well and he's easy to play with," Patrick said.
Lindblom has created goals in three straight games after gaining possession behind the net.
"Sometimes you have it and sometimes you don't," said Lindblom of those type of plays. "These three games I had them. We have to keep trying to get pucks behind and try to create something."
Late in Saturday's game, Lindblom blocked a shot near his left foot and limped off the ice. He said he will play Monday in Arizona.
"His play has been really good over the last little stretch here," coach Dave Hakstol said. "The play he made late in the game, in terms of blocking a shot, that's hockey. We need a lot of that."
Hakstol was in a sour mood after Saturday's overtime loss. So were the players. They were on the verge of sweeping all three California teams on the same trip for the first time in franchise history, and then…
San Jose's 39-year-old Joe Thornton tied the score with a high blast from the top of the left circle with 4 minutes, 57 seconds left in regulation.
Backup goalie Cal Pickard, who made 31 saves on a night when the Sharks came in swarms, admitted it was a goal he wanted back.
"I'm ticked off about losing [Saturday night]," Hakstol said after being reminded his team had collected five of a possible six points so far on the trip. "That's how I evaluate it. I'm not worried about the [previous] two games and not worried about the next game. I don't like how we lost the game."
They lost it 13 seconds into overtime when Logan Couture maneuvered around Voracek at the Sharks' offensive blue line and fed Timo Meier on a two-on-one. Meier whipped a shot past Pickard for his second goal of the game and eighth in the last seven games.
"We should have six [points] out of six," said center Jordan Weal, who scored late in the first period. "You go into the third with a lead, you should win those."
They were in a position to win only because the lines centered by Patrick and Weal excelled, and Pickard had his best performance out of his three starts with his new team.
The Flyers were badly outplayed in the first period and had numerous defensive breakdowns. Yet, they built a 2-1 lead because Pickard made 15 saves, including several from the doorstep.
"He played really well and deserved to win," Weal said. "We didn't back up our goalie and it hurts right now."
On Monday, the Flyers' four-game swing will end against the streaking Coyotes. A win would give the Flyers (6-7-1) a highly successful trip and some much-needed confidence heading into a five-game homestand. A loss would make it a so-so trip and minimize their wins over injury-ravaged Anaheim and lowly Los Angeles.
Led by goalie Antti Raanta (2.10 GAA, .929 save percentage), Rick Tocchet's Coyotes have won five in a row, and they have short-handed goals in four straight games – only five other teams in NHL history have accomplished that feat.
Surprising Arizona has a 7-5 record, which is great improvement from last year's 1-11-1 start.