As the regular season winds its way down to the finish line, one thing should be of great encouragement to the Philadelphia Flyers -- there is no shootout in the postseason.
After falling behind by a 3-0 count after the first period Saturday afternoon to the Ottawa Senators, the Flyers mounted a furious second period comeback to head into the third tied at 3-3. But in the end, it was the outcome of the skills competition that got the best of them in a 4-3 shootout defeat.
It has been well-documented as to Philadelphia's horrible record in afternoon games this season -- 5-10-2 in games that begin before 7 p.m., and 3-8-2 in contests that start before 3 p.m. -- and the Flyers early-game problems continued, as they yielded the first goal for the sixth time in their last eight contests, and 17th time in the last 24.After a Pavel Kubina giveaway led to sustained Ottawa pressure, Bobrovsky may have left the short-side post just a bit early and Jason Spezza made him pay, taking a beauty of a feed from Daniel Alfredsson and tucking it into the vacated side just over six minutes into the game.
Bob didn't look on his game in the first, struggling with some very ordinary shots. After Daniel Alfredsson had made it a 2-0 game on a long-range slap shot that may have deflected off a Flyer in the slot before finding the corner of the net, the goaltender allowed one of the real soft variety when Chris Neil's wrister from the half wall trickled through Bobrovsky's pads and into the net.
It was 3-0 Senators after 14:27, and nearly became 4-0 when another Alfredsson offering slid through the five-hole and came to rest just short of the goal line. Matt Carle alertly got to the puck and cleared it out of harm's way before the Sens could poke it into the open net.
The Flyers had good quality chances, but Anderson was standing on his head, robbing Claude Giroux on a shorthanded breakaway, and stopping several other high-quality, point blank shots.
A 3-0 deficit after the first against a team that desperately needed the two points -- Ottawa (88) entered the game leading both the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres (86 each) by just two points in a situation where it's like musical chairs, two seats left for three teams -- and it was a tall measure for the Flyers, indeed. And the Senators have been very good when leading after one, sporting a 15-3-4 mark when holding a lead heading into the second stanza.
But this season's version of the Flyers has been a resilient bunch, with four victories when trailing by 3-0 deficits this year, and it seems sometimes there is no lead they cannot overcome.
The second period saw the ice tilted in the same direction, and Philly took full advantage. After a nice criss-cross pattern by Danny Briere and Brayden Schenn left Schenn in the slot, Wayne Simmonds had Schenn's shot deflect off the bridge of his nose and into the goal as he was being drilled by the defender in front to make it a 3-1 Senators' lead just under three minutes into the period.
Simmonds was sporting a nasty gash between the eyes after the game.
The Flyers kept pressing and it paid off later in the middle frame, as Sean Couturier was rewarded for some hard work with his 13th of the season. Even that didn't come easy, either, as Filip Kuba lifted the net off the moorings and it was ruled no goal on the ice. After a lengthy video review from the War Room in Toronto, it was ruled a good goal, and the rookie's eight-game goalless drought was a thing of the past.
With the crowd still abuzz, the Orange-and-Black knotted the score less than three minutes later.
Danny Briere led a rush and hit a breaking Brayden Coburn in front of the crease, and the defenseman's deflection beat Anderson to tie the game at 3-3 with just 2:43 remaining in the second period.
Bobrovsky looked much sharper in the middle session, and he had to come up with a huge stop on a Kyle Turrisbreakaway shortly thereafter to keep the momentum with the home team.
The amount of scoring chances were far less in the third period, as both club's realized their situations in the standings warranted a certain amount of caution. After no goals were scored, the contest went to overtime.
Briere has recovered from what has been a disappointing year and has been far more involved in the Flyers' offense in recent weeks. He's still having troubles scoring goals, but he's been racking up the points. After scoring two goals last Saturday against the Canadiens, he's recorded seven assists in the subsequent three outings. The evidence of his still being snake-bitten was proven again as he came out from behind the net, wheeled, and fired a shot that beat Anderson to the glove side, but hit the inside of the post and stayed out.
The forward wasn't completely through, as his individual dash to split the defense in the last minute of overtime ended with an Anderson save and an Ottawa penalty. The Flyers couldn't capitalize, and the game went to what has been the Flyers' official kiss of death since its inception, the shootout.
The Dreaded Shootout
Read started it off by beating Anderson cleanly, as did Milan Michalek on Bobrovsky.
Giroux attempted some kind of move that looked like he took it directly from the All-Star Skills weekend -- but that may have been appropriate, given it was a skills competition that was deciding the game's ultimate outcome. His "turn-the-back-on-the-goalie" backhander sailed over the net.
After Spezza beat Bob, Briere -- after trying some other moves this season in shootouts -- reverted back to the one that has been so successful in shootouts in the past, the forehand-backhand-forehand where he attempts to tuck the puck between the netminder's outstretched pad and the left post. But Anderson stayed with him the entire way, and the Senators grabbed the extra point in the process.
It was a deflating way to end what had been a fantastic comeback, but then again, the shootout has not been friendly to the Flyers.
For the Flyers, it was another loss in an afternoon game. Maybe they can request all of the postseason games are played at night time? Just a thought...
The single point gained leaves the Flyers three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins going into Sunday's showdown in Steel Town in the battle for fourth place in the Eastern Conference -- and home-ice advantage in round one -- as we head into the last week of the regular season.
Flyers' 'March' to the Playoffs
Philly finished the month of March with an 11-3-2 record, the team's best month of March since going 13-3-0 in March of the 1984-85 season.
Questions to Answer
- The Leafs were awful. The Senators aren't great, but they are a team fighting for their playoff lives. How do the Flyers look -- Bobrovsky in particular -- against a team that's actually trying to win? Bob looked very good -- after the awful first period.
- Afternoon game. Slow start? The Flyers looked very good -- after the awful first period. Yup, another SLOW start.
- How does Kimmo Timonen look after taking a game off vs. Toronto? Kimmo played pretty well in the 20:10 of TOI he saw.
- Claude Giroux was one of the few players that didn't look good on Thursday. How's he look today? Not bad -- created many scoring chances, but another game scoreboard-free. G has no points in the last three, and just a goal and an assist in the last six.
Comment of the Day
Today's post of the game comes from 'Prometheus74'...