The winless streak is now four.
On Saturday, the Flyers started strong in the first period, and then slowly fell apart as the game progressed. Tonight against the Anaheim Ducks, the script was flipped. A poor first period forced the team to dig out of a 2-0 hole, and the team responded with some of their best 5v5 play of the young season in the second and third periods. But the end result was the same as Saturday night - a shootout loss, as the Flyers fell 4-3.
A goal by Tim Jackman opened up the scoring with 7:40 left in the first period, and from that point on through the end of the stanza, it was all Ducks. They added a second goal from Devante Smith-Pelly, and Philadelphia looked dead on their skates going back into the locker room after one.
Credit the Flyers, though. They came out skating hard in the second, even if the execution was lacking at first. But they began to push the play more and more, and finally started earning power plays. Two straight goals with the man advantage from Mark Streit and Wayne Simmonds tied the game, and reminded everyone that just like last year, this team will be carried by their special teams. But a late goal by Matt Beleskey ensured that the Ducks would go into the intermission with a 3-2 lead.
The Flyers carried the play through the third period, led by the Giroux line and the new Schenn-Bellemare-Simmonds combo. Finally, with 5:20 left in the game, Jakub Voracek tied it with a gorgeous backhand in front. The team's strong play continued into the overtime period, but despite chances, they were unable to pot another goal.
As a result, it went to a shootout, where even a beautiful dangle from Giroux would not be enough, as Jakob Silfverberg and William Karlsson scored to give the Ducks the victory in the skills competition.
Ten more observations on the game:
- The Flyers are going to live and die by their power play this season, but they did play well at even strength for the majority of the game. Granted, they had the benefit of score effects after falling behind 2-0 in the first period, but it was still heartening to see sustained possession throughout the lineup.
- Wayne Simmonds finished a +20 in terms of shot attempts tonight, and the eyes certainly matched the stats. He was everywhere, bashing home a loose puck on the power play and winning puck battles in the corners all night long. He now has seven points (five goals, two assists) in four games this season.
- Is it more fun to watch Wayne Simmonds or Jakub Voracek play hockey? Jake was straight up dominant in the third period, channeling his inner Jagr in terms of strength on the puck. His eventual game-tying goal was no surprise considering how well he was playing.
- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was tasked with replacing Vincent Lecavalier as a scoring center, flanked by Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, and it's tough to argue with his performance. Like his teammates, he was dragging at the end of the first period, but during the rest of the game, he was one of the team's best forwards, carrying the puck into the zone with speed and backchecking constantly. I imagine he'll stay off the fourth line for the foreseeable future.
- Keep Michael Raffl with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. At this point, it's not even a slight against Brayden Schenn - it's that Raffl seems to help his more gifted teammates get the most out of their talent on every shift.
- Speaking of Claude Giroux, how about his effort on the shift that caused the game-tying goal? He kept the puck in the offensive zone twice - first via a baseball swing, and second via a forced turnover right at the blue line. Giroux was not credited with an assist on the play, but he certainly deserved one.
- Brayden Schenn was used in the Scott Hartnell spot on the first power play unit with Lecavalier out. While he doesn't have the size of Hartnell or Lecavalier, he's definitely quicker at moving the puck than either of them. The power play should not miss a beat with him there.
- In the third period, Craig Berube paired Andrew MacDonald and Nicklas Grossmann together. Yikes. He did imply after the game that it was a temporary move and probably wouldn't hold for the team's next game. Let's hope not.
- Grossmann took a nasty head-first spill into the boards during the second period. Ryan Kesler gave him a little shove, but it was mostly caused by Grossmann falling on his own. His knee buckled as he fell, but he returned later, and said after the game that he was fine. He just needed a few minutes to make sure that his surgically-repaired knee wasn't damaged again.
- Wasn't Sean Couturier supposed to be given more offensive opportunities this season? Only 11% of his faceoffs tonight were in the offensive zone.
Comment of the Night
Yeah maybe [Grossmann] just didn't want to play for this team anymore.
"I'LL BOARD MYSELF."