An early lead, too many penalties, another injury, and a game lost by the Flyers in the final minutes. The season finale ended in typical Flyers fashion as they lost 4-2 to the Ottawa Senators and finished with a 25-46-11 record.
“It sort of sums it up, doesn’t it?” interim coach Mike Yeo said. “I mean, how many times we’ve had games similar to that? You battle and you scratch and claw and the power play gets on the board, scores a big goal for us, and then obviously find a way to let it slip away at the end.”
After an evenly matched first period, the Flyers went on the power play with 1:57 to go. While that has killed momentum for the Flyers in the past, this time, the Flyers not only built momentum, but also scored. James van Riemsdyk’s goal was his 24th of the season, which put him ahead of Cam Atkinson as team goal leader.
Despite going on the penalty kill twice in quick succession, the Flyers maintained a lead until a turnover by Ivan Provorov led to Josh Norris’s equalizing goal in the second. The Flyers then started the third period fast, and Morgan Frost set up Owen Tippett for a good scoring chance. Tippett was shoved on the way in and injured himself, although he returned to the game. Shortly after, the Senators Travis Hamonic scored the go-ahead.
But the Flyers kept fighting and drew a power play. It took a while for them to get things going, but then Travis Konecny drew another penalty, sending the Flyers on a 5-on-3. The Flyers have had eight 5-on-3 opportunities this season, but they hadn’t scored on one. Here, they flipped the script when Tippett scored.
But the Flyers once again failed to build off momentum once again and gave up another goal minutes later.
“It felt like, especially down the stretch, a lot of times we were right there and taking games into the third period and a decent spot, and then it kind of got away from us,” van Riemsdyk said. “Certainly, that’s not how you be a successful team.”
Flyers special teams, who are they?
With five Flyers in the blue paint and three of them lying on the ground, it was an opportune moment for the Senators power play. But with help from Egor Zamula and Linus Hogberg, who blocked shots right on the goal line, and frantically sliding and crawling, Martin Jones was able to shut down the power play.
They killed three of the four Senators power plays after they gave up two power play goals on five penalty kills against the Winnipeg Jets.
Even more staggering than the penalty kill was the power play’s performance. The unit that went out for the first time was a mishmash of past power play units. The first difference from recent power plays was that the Flyers passed it around without losing the puck and giving up a shorthanded chance. But the major difference came once James van Riemsdyk received the puck in the crease, passed it backwards between his legs, and scored the first Flyers power play goal in 10 power plays.
The Flyers went 2-for-3 on the power play after coming into the game with a league-low 11.9 percent success rate.
Passing to the wrong color jersey
The Flyers didn’t just turn the puck over against the Senators — their giveaways came in bad situations that set the Senators up for good opportunities.
“Taking care of the puck is everything in this game,” Yeo said. “You can defend all you want, but if you turn pucks over, you’re gonna give the other team momentum.”
The first few mistakes were made by young players, 23-year-old Ronnie Attard and 22-year-olds Zamula and Joel Farabee. While theirs set the Senators up in the offensive zone, the Flyers were able to recover from them. However, in the second period, 25-year-old first-pair defenseman Provorov turned the puck over behind the Flyers goal. Brady Tkachuk got his stick on the puck as Provorov came around the net, and Provorov’s pass turned into an assist for an easy goal for Norris.
Fight and focus falter
Down 2-1 in the final period of the final game of the season, the Flyers didn’t give up. While a loss would mean better odds in the NHL draft lottery, the Flyers played for their pride rather than extra balls in the lottery. They fought hard in the crease, getting rebound attempts, as well as along the walls. They managed to keep the puck on their sticks for much longer periods than they had all season, and they drew a penalty from it. The resulting power play tied the game. Despite their willpower, they weren’t able to sustain that and win the game.
The Flyers clean out their lockers Saturday and head into the offseason.