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Wild 1, Flyers 0: Stingy defensive effort keeps Flyers off the board

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The visitors shut down the Flyers’ attack all night long and finally broke through offensively in the third period.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the Flyers proved unable to string together consecutive wins against Western Conference foes, as they dropped a tough 1-0 contest to the Minnesota Wild. Jason Zucker scored the only goal of the contest early in the third period. Brian Elliott stopped 26 of 27 shots in the loss.

Below, you can relive all of the drama (admittedly, that’s a rather liberal usage of the term “drama”) as you see my minute-by-minute thoughts from start to finish. Enjoy.

***

6:48 p.m.: Some crazy stuff has happened the past couple of times that the Flyers have played the Wild in Philadelphia. In particular, two big late saves have won the game for the Flyers in those games. Remember this, from Michal Neuvirth a couple years back?

And then last year, Steve Mason did this to preserve a win in a similar setting (oddly enough, on this exact same weekend last November)?

Let’s aim for the same result here tonight, but maybe with a little less crazy? Or the same amount of crazy. Hell, I can handle more crazy if necessary. I don’t really care. Just win, baby.

7:03 p.m.: Courtesy of the Flyers’ “Club Playing Roster”, the Giroux/Couturier/Voracek line (as if there was any other choice) will be starting tonight’s game, as will Ghost and Manning. Let’s do this thing.

7:10 p.m.: We’re underway here in Philadelphia. Errant neutral zone pass by Couturier turns into a Wild chance in the opening seconds, but a nice carry-in by Provorov leads to a good shift from the Konecny/Filppula/Simmonds line.

7:13 p.m.: And we’re right off to the power play as Chris Stewart boards Radko Gudas. Gudas appears to be OK, but that looked painful. Man, tough couple of weeks here for Gudas.

7:15 p.m.: Woof. Nice stretch of offensive zone pressure by the top unit for the first minute or so of that PP, but Couturier and ____ tussle for the puck out in the neutral zone and it ends in a breakaway for Mikko Koivu. Great work by Elliott, who got taken wide by Koivu but stayed patient and made a nice stick save.

7:21 p.m.: We get our first stoppage in about five-ish minutes here as Minnesota ices the puck. Not a ton of quality chances were found in the time, but steady back-and-forth action nevertheless as we get going here. Good shift by the fourth line early in that stretch was probably the highlight of it. Aaaaand now Provorov shoots off the faceoff and Dubnyk stops it, and we’ll go to commercial for the first time.

7:26 p.m.: A couple of offsides here for the Flyers within about a minute of one another. Minnesota doing what it can to shut things down in the neutral zone — passing is going to have to be on point.

7:30 p.m.: Voracek tries to center it out from behind the net, but the Wild are there in front of Dubnyk to clean things up. Like the idea, though.

7:31 p.m.: Dangit. Good sequence of passes — starting with Simmonds in his own zone — leads to a nice shift for that second line, but a cross-ice pass by Filppula is just a bit in front of Konecny and he can’t one-time it home.

7:35 p.m.: Apparently (Jim Jackson just said this on the broadcast) the Flyers are currently the best faceoff team in the NHL. Who’d have thunk it? I think faceoffs are a little overrated in value, but it’s clearly still better to win them than to not, so good to see. (Also, NHL dot com actually has them at third in the league, with a 52.9 win percentage, as of this writing, so who knows where JJ is getting that number from, but still, pretty good.)

7:40 p.m.: Flyers’ forecheck has been really strong in these past few minutes. Minnesota struggling to really do much of anything under control in the neutral zone. Seems like the visitors haven’t had a shot on goal in a while.

7:42 p.m.: Right on cue there, a solid shift by Minnesota in the period’s final seconds is deflected in front of Elliott, but the Moose is there to make the initial stop and the rebound is cleared out. (That, for the record, was Minnesota’s first shot on goal in 9:20 of game time.) It’s bagels for each side after one period. Neither side had much in the way of quality chances that period, but the Flyers clearly had the puck more. Hopefully the second part of that continues.

7:46 p.m.: Per Natural Stat Trick: the Flyers allowed just six shot attempts by the Wild in the game’s first 18 even-strength minutes. Not bad.

8:00 p.m.: Underway in the second and we’ll quickly see the Flyers’ penalty kill as Voracek kind of holds Mikael Granlund, I guess?

8:03 p.m.: Outside of one moment there where Hagg got caught flat-footed in the defensive zone and Jason Zucker skated past him to get a chance on Elliott, pretty strong PK by the Flyers.

8:07 p.m.: Minnesota with a lot more pep in their step this period. A couple of Flyers get caught deep and the Wild have a 3-on-1, albeit one that they probably could have played a bit better/more creatively. Elliott — who’s had a busy start to the period — makes the save there on Niederreiter.

8:08 p.m.: Lotta point shots from Flyers defensemen tonight. Very 2016-17-ish.

8:13 p.m.: Apropos of nothing, it’s still pretty crazy to me that this fourth line, which has been together in nearly every game this season and has played well via the eye test and nearly any number you can find, has only two goals this season. That has to change, right? Maybe tonight. Score a goal tonight, the fourth line.

8:14 p.m.: Odd-man chance for Minnesota leads to a penalty, as Giroux hooks Joel Eriksson Ek (who has two last names, for some reason) to prevent a chance on a cross-ice pass. Sounded like Giroux yelled a rather angry word after being called for that penalty. It may have been “fart”. Something like that. Began with an F, at least.

8:17 p.m.: A shot high and wide on the shorthanded rush by Simmonds turns into a chance the other way, and while Gudas is able to alter Mikael Granlund’s drive to the net at the last second, Elliott still has to turn around to corral the loose puck in his crease. He’s been very strong tonight.

8:19 p.m.: PK has expired, but Minnesota still gets a good chance once the teams are at five-a-side. Good work by Brandon Manning to get in the way to block a potentially dangerous shot in the slot there.

8:21 p.m.: Gaaah a long shot by Hagg sees a rebound spit out to Couturier, who can’t get to it in time to tap it into the open net. Looked like he got tied up by someone on that Minnesota defense there. Best chance the Flyers have had this period.

8:28 p.m.: Hectic sequence in these past couple minutes. Shot off the rush by Konecny then turns into a good shift by the fourth line, then Sanheim mishandles the puck at the blue line and Minnesota turns that into a 2-on-1 that doesn’t amount to much. A mostly-boring hockey game has started to look like a slightly less boring hockey game.

8:30 p.m.: And then a 3-on-2 for Minnesota turns into a blocked shot and another save by Elliott. It took a while, but things are definitely picking up here.

8:32 p.m.: That’ll continue into a Flyers power play, as a strong cycle shift by the Filppula line ends with the Finnish vet getting hooked in the slot and sending the Flyers to the man-advantage with 1:26 left in the second period.

8:34 p.m.: Upon review, that waaaaaaaas a pretty weak hooking call. I’ll take it!

8:35 p.m.: Nothing much happening on that power play. There’ll be 34 seconds left on it when we get back to action in a few minutes. Still zeroes on both sides after 40.

8:40 p.m.: Definitely a more active second period, and a pretty even one. Overall shots on goal 11-9 Flyers; 5-on-5 attempts are 13-10 Flyers. Both goalies playing pretty well in this one.

8:56 p.m.: A fairly lame power play comes to an end shortly after the third period begins. Gotta get something done here, guys.

8:57 p.m.: Oops. Point shot blocked off of Travis Konecny bounces off of the back boards and to Zucker right to the side of the net, and he banks it in off of Elliott’s blocker pad from the angle to open up the scoring. Crappy bounce. 1-0 Wild.

9:02 p.m.: A kind of lazy pass by Gudas ends up at the stick of Stewart, who gets in for his second breakaway of the night. Gudas, though, recovers just enough to dive and get a stick on the puck before Stewart gets a real good chance at Elliott.

9:04 p.m.: Nearly an outstanding pass by Laughton ends up on Leier’s stick in front of the net, but Leier’s taken out at the last second. Minnesota still doing a good job of cutting off the Flyers’ passing lanes.

9:06 p.m.: Elliott’s looked a bit more frantic in this period. Big rebound out there allowed Minnesota another chance to double its lead. Fortunately, they did not take advantage of it, and we’re still tied with 12 minutes left in the period.

9:09 p.m.: Great play by Provorov to pinch and keep the puck in the offensive zone, and then Voracek is held behind the net and the Flyers will get another power play. Bruce Boudreau is not happy about it. Bruce Boudreau can eat my shorts. (I’m not wearing shorts. It’s very cold out today, folks.) Anywho, big, big chance here for the orange team.

9:12 p.m.: That big, big chance did not amount to anything particularly interesting. Some shoving between Granlund and Hagg as they exchange words, and we’ll head to commercial with just over nine minutes left.

9:16 p.m.: Eight minutes left and the Flyers just played the Fall Out Boy song about lighting mups. Seems like a bad omen.

9:21 p.m.: A brief offensive zone shift there for the top line, but we’re still scoreless with 5:26 left. Flyers just can’t find anyone open in a dangerous area tonight.

9:24 p.m.: Great pass from behind the net by Raffl leads to a point-blank shot by Laughton, but Dubnyk cuts the angle off on it. Damn. Also, Sanheim is hurt on the bench. On replay, looks like he just gets tangled up with Daniel Winnik and falls awkwardly. Still on the bench, so hopefully he’s OK.

9:25 p.m.: Aaaaaaand the Flyers will be on an inopportune penalty kill as Voracek holds Jonas Brodin behind the net. Jake, like his friend Claude did earlier, had some rather impolite words to say about that call after the fact. 3:49 left on the clock as the kill begins.

9:27 p.m.: Heck of an effort by Laughton there to nearly chase down a loose puck in the neutral zone and force the Wild to retreat a bit, killing more time on the PK.

9:28 p.m.: There was just a fly or a bug or something like that flying in the NBCS Philly camera for a solid five seconds or so during this PK. I have nothing to add to that, I just thought it was funny.

9:29 p.m.: PK is over and Elliott is to the bench with 1:25 left.

9:31 p.m.: Following a timeout and something drawn up on the whiteboard, a biiiiiiiit too much passing along the perimeter leads to a save by Dubnyk on a long shot. Stoppage with 35 seconds left.

9:32 p.m.: MASS OF HUMANITY IN FRONT OF THE NET and the puck doesn’t go in. Flyers finally got the puck into the slot, and Dubnyk’s able to eat that puck in the crease before Voracek can get a stick on it. 4.2 seconds left. Miracle time?

9:33 p.m.: We’re going to have to wait to find out if it’s miracle time, because the Wild have called timeout.

9:34 p.m.: It is not miracle time. Point shot by Ghost is blocked by Staal and the Flyers lose 1-0 to a Central Division foe for the second time this season. Final shot count is 32-27 Flyers; 5-on-5 attempts were 42-34 Flyers, but the difference here was Minnesota keeping the Flyers out of the slot for the overwhelming majority of the game. So it goes. Hope they were taking notes, because they’re all going to Minnesota to do this again on Tuesday night. See you then. Go Flyers.