Following a 3-0 victory over the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, there was good reason for optimism among the Philadelphia Flyers faithful. But after watching the team get outplayed for the majority of another contest against a Western Conference power, maybe that optimism should be tempered a bit.
Led by star forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, the Dallas Stars and their relentless offense wore down the Flyers, as they exited the Wells Fargo Center with a 2-1 victory. Antti Niemi provided stellar support for his skaters, stopping 34 of 35 shots.
The first period began well enough for Philadelphia, but by the end of the stanza, they were clinging to life. After an opening fifteen minutes filled with tight neutral zone checking, Philadelphia began to have serious trouble exiting the defensive zone. Only a few big saves by Steve Mason in his first game back kept the Stars off the scoreboard during extended cycles.
But just as it looked that the Flyers would survive the first period with the game scoreless, Brandon Manning misplayed a bouncing puck and allowed Tyler Seguin to blast in on Steve Mason. Seguin then flipped a knuckler past Mason to give the Stars a 1-0 lead with less than a minute remaining in the period.
The onslaught did not abate as the second period started. Right off the faceoff, Wayne Simmonds tried to initiate an aggressive forecheck at the top of the Dallas zone but failed to snatch the puck. With Manning pinching to provide support, Dallas was able to quickly generate an odd-man rush with Jamie Benn leading the way. Unsurprisingly, he beat Mason for the Stars' second goal of the night.
In a mirror image of their performance against Chicago last week, the Flyers did not begin to start pushing the play until the third period when facing a deficit. After peppering Niemi with ten shots through the first half of third period play, Philadelphia finally broke through. Sean Couturier was the beneficiary of a Wayne Simmonds rush chance, crashing the net and knocking the puck past Niemi with his leg.
The Flyers kept up the pressure, finishing with 14 shots - the best coming from Michael Raffl in the slot on a late power play. But Niemi proved up to the task. Any last hopes of a comeback were thwarted by a Matt Read offensive zone slashing penalty that limited any pressure that the Flyers could muster.
Philadelphia will come away satisfied with their third period performance and disappointed with the rest of their game. They'll have a chance to right the ship tomorrow night in Boston against the Bruins.
Morning observations and analysis from last night's game can be found here.
Comment of the Night
Roussel really strikes me as a guy that needs a good ol’ country butt-whuppin
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