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Flyers 3, Hurricanes 2: 10 things we learned from Philadelphia's first home win of November

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The Flyers broke their three-game losing streak courtesy of a Shayne Gostisbehere overtime bomb from the slot. How were they able to finally break through last night?

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Observations is a new feature, where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.

  • Shayne Gostisbehere was rightfully the hero from last night's win - his shift during the game-winning power play in overtime was a thing of beauty, from the keep-in at the point, to finding an open spot in the slot, to the deceptive one-timer. But the rookie's play at even strength was far from perfect. His possession statistics in the first two periods weren't great, but that was primarily due to unproductive offensive zone entries on the part of the forwards while Gostisbehere was on the ice. On the other hand, Ghost and Brandon Manning really struggled against an aggressive Carolina forecheck in the third. There will be growing pains for the young defenseman, but as he showed in overtime, his skills have a way of erasing the bad.
  • The Flyers were absolutely outplayed in the third period, but I didn't see them sit back all that much. They were actively trying to generate entries, exit the defensive zone with possession of the puck and get in on the forecheck - all good things. The only major issue I saw was that the defensemen were not staying high in the neutral zone to cut off Carolina's breakout. Instead, they hung back, creating large gaps between the forechecking forwards and the defensemen, more than enough space for the Hurricanes to build up speed through the neutral zone. That's on the back end for not continuing to trust the tactics that had worked through two periods of play.

  • Jakub Voracek spent the majority of the contest alongside Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde, though Flyers coach Dave Hakstol was able to send him out for a few shifts with Claude Giroux scattered throughout the game. Philadelphia's new third line was generally effective, unsurprisingly looking like an upgraded version of the VandeVelde-Bellemare-White line that received so much ice time early in the year. For all his skill, Voracek remains a stellar forechecker, and that element of his game fit the line well. But neither Bellemare nor VandeVelde have elite offensive instincts, so Voracek was unable to create much in the way of scoring chances. The line will probably be fine at puck possession, and fully capable of scoring dirty goals off rebounds. But it lacks the high-end skill necessary to take advantage of Voracek's elite playmaking ability.
  • The play of Michal Neuvirth mirrored the play of the Philadelphia Flyers. Through two periods, he was steady in his first start since November 10th, particularly in terms of tracking the puck through screens and off deflections. But just as Philadelphia's play dipped dramatically in the third, Neuvirth began to struggle too. His major issue was rebound control. Both goals came off fat rebounds, and the Flyers goalie was unable to even direct pucks to the corners, let alone swallow up the first shot during a cycle. The third period was a team effort of poor play, but the October Neuvirth likely keeps this game from overtime.
  • Brayden Schenn was all over the ice again last night. He took seven shot attempts, and all fell into the category of "high-danger scoring chances," including his power play goal in the second period.He even drew a penalty shot. Dave Hakstol has denied that the scratching of Schenn on November 14th was meant as a motivational tool, but it's certainly had that effect. His game may not be perfect, but Schenn is back to fighting his way into key areas of the ice - a key job for a winger on the same line as Claude Giroux.
  • The play of Sean Couturier has definitely been more assertive in the past few games. Last night, he took five individual shot attempts, including a shot on a shorthanded rush that created Giroux's second period goal. And that doesn't even include Couturier's rush in overtime that drew the key penalty to set up Gostisbehere's game winner. The possession numbers remain solid, and combined with Couturier taking a more central role with the puck, I'd expect to see his scoring totals rise dramatically in the coming weeks.
  • Carolina generated four shots on goal and zero high-danger scoring chances during their time on the power play. During those same minutes, Philadelphia generated four shots on goal and four high-danger chances while shorthanded. It was total dominance from a unit that has been inconsistent all season along. Giroux's goal wasn't a fluke caused by one lucky rush - it was the product of a smothering penalty kill that was aggressive in transition. Considering their recent offensive struggles, I wouldn't be surprised if the regular penalty killers were directed by the coaching staff to take more risks with the hope of generating some extra scoring. If so, it certainly worked last night.
  • The two best penalty killing forwards on the Flyers are Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, so I love the recent trend of pairing them together. It gives Philadelphia its best shorthanded weapon since Mike Richards was traded to Los Angeles. Giroux used to be an offensive weapon on the penalty kill, but as his shorthanded ice time shrank and his partners became less imposing, that element of his game dried up. Pairing him with Couturier - a forward with plus defensive instincts who can help Giroux move up ice quickly - adds an entirely new element to this penalty kill. It gives the team a pair that opponents must fear.
  • For years, the Flyers have relied upon the first power play unit to generate almost all of its pressure. This year has been no different, even if the overall scoring efficiency of the power play as a whole is down. Last night, the second unit finally stepped up and made life difficult for Carolina goaltender Eddie Lack. Couturier stood out as a driver of the cycle for the second unit, but point men Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Manning looked surprisingly comfortable as well. We'll see on Wednesday if last night's performance was simply a few fluky good shifts, or the start of a genuine improvement.
  • Taylor Leier has struggled in limited NHL action thus far, but last night was his best game as a Flyer. Leier personally generated two scoring chances, and even drew a penalty. He still leans too much on the dump-and-chase game, but he's brought speed and surprising forechecking ability to the table thus far. Looking at his skillset, there's legitimate potential for Leier to be a useful bottom-six forward in the Hakstol system. He just needs to find his niche on the right line, getting more than seven minutes a night.