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Flyers 5, Coyotes 2: Closing out strong

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Wins, baby!

Norm Hall / NHLI via Getty Images

We made it! We really made it, you guys! We’ve survived the West coast swing and got to ease out of things with a nice little 9 pm start. Can we call the actual game that happened nice? I mean… uh… at least the getting to bed a little earlier was nice.

The Flyers kicked things off by promptly letting the puck get sent into their own end and tied up along the boards for what feels like a solid minute but was not actually that long, and the Coyotes got the puck and got it to Michael Grabner for a chance. And we should be paying attention to what’s happening on the ice, but they mentioned Michael Grabner on the broadcast and all I can think about is that great tweet from before his signing with the Coyotes was announced.

Anyway…

And now they’re finally getting some movement going on and Hagg’s touched the puck and will they… will they do it already? You bet they will. Not even three minutes in and we’ve already got a note that Robert Hagg leads the league in hits. And don’t fact check me on that, but that’s got to be some kind of record.

From here the Flyers seemed to pick up some momentum, with a rush for Travis Sanheim and then some presence in the offensive zone, but none of that could result in a proper shot on goal. And then just as quickly as it looked like they might be taking over, play went the other way, and it was all for naught.

The first shot of the game for the Flyers would be from Nolan Patrick, after he stripped Nick Cousins (lol) of the puck in the defensive zone and got another rush going with Lindblom. At long last.

And it was quiet for a while, with some back and forth, and if we were wanting some drama, we got it, but just of the wrong variety, as a turnover by Jordan Weal in their own end led to a dangerous scoring chance for Clayton Keller. They had Calvin Pickard in position to make the save, but it got ugly for a minute there.

The Flyers came back in a big way not too long after, with another rush and a chance for Patrick that was broken up before he could get it on goal. But this line just kept on going with their early momentum, giving the Flyers a bit of speed where they were lacking it in those early goings.

And it just kept getting better! With the top line getting set up in the offensive zone, Sean Couturier made a very nice one-touch pass to Claude Giroux, who walked in on a screened Darcy Kuemper to give the Flyers their first lead of the game.

The chances kept on coming for the Flyers through the next few minutes, with a highlight being one missed pass for the Coyotes in the Flyers’ end turning into an odd-man rush for the Flyers, and a shot that just sailed wide. But there was some momentum beginning to build.

And a chance to do even more! With just about four minutes to go in the period, Wayne Simmonds drew a tripping penalty and sent the Flyers to the power play! and we should be excited about that but we’re kind of not? The power play has struggled so far this season and the Coyotes have scored seven (seven!) shorthanded goals so far this season. We didn’t have any of that sort of drama on this one, actually quite the opposite—the second unit was able to generate a couple of chances before drawing a slashing call to give themselves four seconds of 5-on-3 time, and then 1:50 of 5-on-4 before the period expired. They wouldn’t need all of that time, as the top unit got to cycling the puck, and with the screen set in front, Shayne Gostisbehere had all the space in the world to work with to extend the Flyers’ lead.

We had one more chance for each team at the end of the period, but we were through with scoring for now. and the Flyers hit the first intermission with a two goal lead.

AFTER ONE: Flyers 2, Coyotes 0

We’re back and the Flyers are still doing their thing. They came out with some jump and looked like they might be able to push this lead even further, as they looked to hold onto that momentum from the first period…

And then, oh, oh no. that’s over with. Lindblom was called for interference and the Coyotes were off to the power play with hopes of cutting the lead to one. And it, uh, did not take them long to do that. With the screen set and the pass sent over to Alex Galchenyuk, he zipped it past Pickard without much trouble at all.

And it keeps getting better! Mere seconds later Hagg was called for tripping and the Coyotes had a chance to tie things up! They were able to avoid giving up a goal on that one but oh boy was it not a pretty road to get there. All I have to do is tell you that they did The Thing, and you can see it in your mind—the passive standing around while the Coyotes set to cycling the puck and generated a couple of dangerous chances. Pickard bailed them out, and they avoided giving up a goal, but it very easily could have gone south fast.

Even out of the power play, the Flyers just couldn’t seem to get out of their own end. Arizona was able to generate a bit more pressure before Patrick was finally able to break the puck out of the zone. They were able to take over from there, with another rush for Simmonds soon after, and then a bit more pressure generated on a 6-on-5 after a delayed penalty was called. There wasn’t anything there, but they still had the power play coming. Because apparently all we’ll be doing this period is talk about special teams.

We got a little bit of pressure in this one, but not a whole lot of flash. Outside of a couple of chances for the top unit, the Coyotes did well to keep their efforts frustrated and the puck cleared out of the zone. The Flyers were able to avoid giving up a shorthanded chance in this one, as well, which we’re never going to not be worried about. No goals for anyone. Which is a win and also not a win.

And remember when we said we would only be talking about special teams? We weren’t kidding. After getting hemmed into their own zone, but avoiding giving up a goal, the Flyers committed a penalty (Scott Laughton would go off for slashing) and Arizona would have yet another chance on the power play. Sigh.

But something shocking happened in this one. In without a doubt their best showing of the night, the Flyers were able to get three clears and two shorthanded chances, and did well in defending the Coyotes attempts to enter the zone cleanly, keeping them largely neutralized through those two minutes. It wasn’t terribly flashy, but they got the job done and maintained for themselves the lead.

The story back at even strength wasn’t a particularly good one, as the Flyers promptly got hemmed back into their own end. They struggled to maintain control of the puck long enough to get out, much less generate any offense of their own. It took Pickard making a couple of great saves to keep them in it.

The Flyers weren’t without their own chances in the latter part of the second period, and it would turn out that they didn’t need many to get their two goal lead back. And it would be just about the weirdest play that would lead to it. I don’t think I could do it justice with words. Just take a look.

The last few minutes of the period felt a lot like the last few of the first—a last minute push for the Coyotes gave them a few nice looks, but a big save by Pickard kept the lead in tact. So, thanks, pal.

AFTER TWO: Flyers 3, Coyotes 1

After a push from the Coyotes to start the period, the Flyers brought some flash of their own with an odd-man rush into the zone and a couple of chances in front for the third line, but they just wouldn’t go. And more early drama came with both Konecny and Lindblom getting dinged up and experiencing some discomfort. They were both fine, but like, if everybody could just stop getting hurt, that would be fantastic. We cannot afford any more injuries. We really cannot.

Anyway, the Flyers kept on doing good things as we continued. With Simmonds taking advantage of a turnover at the blue line, and after being interfered with to draw a delayed penalty, started a rush in on goal and fed the puck to Giroux in front, who walked around Kuemper and with the tip-in, extended the Flyers’ lead to three.

Update: Konecny did indeed leave the bench, presumably pulled by the concussion spotter. Hopefully he is indeed okay. Also pretty excited for the Flyers to go the rest of the game down a forward and for Hakstol to only give Nicolas Aube-Kubel like five minutes. Pretty cool stuff.

We hit some run and gun during the middle part of the period, but there wasn’t a whole lot of consequence to be had. The Flyers weren’t quite sitting back, as we might normally see at this point in the game while holding the lead, but they did give up a chance—in this case, another chance on the power play after Christian Folin was whistled for holding. The Flyers’ efforts on this one were good enough to keep their full lead in tact. They did well in breaking up passes and getting the necessary clears, and were even able to

But before we get too excited, the Flyers avoided giving up a goal on the penalty kill, but could not avoid giving up a goal before the next TV timeout. A breakdown left Grabner open to feed Richard Panik for the goal to cut the Flyers’ lead to two with just over five minutes to go.

If we expected the Coyotes to come back with some speed and force, we were… wrong. Or, the Flyers did well defensively to frustrate their efforts to set up any kind of would-be dangerous rush. They spent the next minute between whistles relatively quiet.

Further update: Konecny did return to the bench with just under four minutes to go. Same with Lindblom, who went off for some period of time, as well. They’re both okay.

And now it’s just about two and a half minutes to go and Arizona’s pulled the goalie and it looks ugly, friends. the Flyers sat back and let the Coyotes get to work with the extra attacker. They were collapsing the crease but the Flyers were just able to get the puck cleared, and with that out to the neutral zone, Lindblom had a bit of space to work with, and he sent the puck in to notch the empty netter and seal things off.

What’s left? A little bit more pressure from the Coyotes and two fights. And that’s all. The Flyers got the win.

Last update, to tie up the loose end: Aube-Kubel played 4:13. Cool.

FINAL: Flyers 5, Coyotes 2