Petr Mrazek got a welcome to Philadelphia on Thursday night that was fairly representative of what this team can tend to be at times: confusing, at times frustrating, and here and there a bit slow. But the Flyers’ newest goaltender also got something that the Flyers, for all of their faults, have been picking up a lot of lately: a win.
After a bizarrely uneventful first two periods, a two-goal third period brought the Travis Konecny-less Flyers back from a second-intermission deficit, and they picked up a big 2-1 victory over a Columbus team that’s now two points further back in the race for a playoff spot in the East. Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist on the night, while Nolan Patrick scored the game-winner on the power play about halfway through the third period. Mrazek stopped 19 of 20 Columbus shots as he picked up his first victory in orange and black.
Relive the magic with us below as we reacted minute-by-minute to the Flyers’ fourth straight win.
6:53 p.m.: We begin on a somewhat-expected but still-unfortunate note, as Travis Konecny will miss tonight’s game with a foot injury. He clearly seemed to be less than 100 percent today, based on reports from morning skate and pre-game. Even though this is a fairly important game, the Flyers’ playoff position is secure enough that it’s not worth putting a banged-up Konecny into the game if there’s any reasonable chance this could get further aggravated. Heck, give him the whole next week off. The Flyers’ next two games are against Ottawa and Montreal, both of whom are bad. Get some rest.
7:01 p.m.: Michael Raffl will move up to Konecny’s spot on the top line, while Taylor Leier finds his way back into the lineup and onto the third line in Raffl’s spot. Fine with it. On to Petr Mrazek’s Flyers debut we go!
7:08 p.m.: There it is, seconds before puck drop: Konecny is “day-to-day”.
Travis Konecny has a lower-body injury. He is out tonight and is considered day to day.— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 23, 2018
Like I said, this is fine. Enjoy a couple days off, TK. Anywho, the Petr Mrazek era is underway.
7:10 p.m.: We’ve got an early power play for a somewhat light slash on Sean Couturier by Cam Atkinson. That’s the ninth straight power play in a Flyers game that has belonged to the Flyers. What a world.
7:12 p.m.: Let’s see who takes Konecny’s spot on the second power play and oh no it’s Dale Weise.
7:13 p.m.: Nothing doing on that power play. And now Mrazek is forced to make his first save as a Flyer, as he gets across to make a tough save on David Savard that came off a great cross-ice pass.
7:18 p.m.: Best chance of the game so far for the Flyers comes on ... a Filppula-and-Lehtera 2-on-1. Sure. In fairness, great play by Filppula in the neutral zone to get the puck from Seth Jones, and a nice pass by him to a trailing Ivan Provorov, who probably should have just shot the puck on his own rather than send it back to Filppula (which he did, before proceeding to miss the net on the shot). Good chance, regardless.
7:19 p.m.: And now Giroux gets in on a breakaway thanks to an inexplicably bad decision by Pierre-Luc Dubois, but he’s denied by Bobrovsky. Columbus very sloppy so far. Gotta take advantage.
7:26 p.m.: The first period’s slowed down a bit. Flyers just missing on a couple of long passes; Columbus still not really getting much of anything going. Just one shot on goal 11 minutes into the game — a bit of a departure from what they were doing at this time a week ago, when they were putting up 50-plus shots in three straight games.
7:29 p.m.: Jakub Voracek gets a stick in the fact from Jack Johnson and the Flyers now have their tenth straight power play. Do something with it?
7:31 p.m.: First unit finally gets some cracks at Bobrovsky but can’t make it work. Best chance comes from a rebound off of the back boards, but both Nolan Patrick (playing in Wayne Simmonds’ usual spot) and Sean Couturier unsuccessfully flail away at it and tangle each other up to the point where they can’t get a stick on it. Bummer. Power play is over.
7:33 p.m.: Mrazek is forced to cover a puck that bounces off of the boards behind him. Still only one save in his first 14-plus minutes in a Flyers uniform.
7:35 p.m.: Well, so marks the end of an era. Jordan Weal interferes (unnecessarily, I should add) with Artemi Panarin in the neutral zone, and for the first time in over a week, the Flyers will head to the penalty kill.
7:37 p.m.: My god, this Columbus power play is terrible. Two decent shorthanded chances for the Flyers already, with almost nothing in the way of established pressure by Columbus.
7:38 p.m.: The penalty kill is over and Shayne Gostisbehere is tripped coming into the offensive zone annnnnnnnnd no call. Cool. Good. Anywho, Zac Dalpe gets the puck into the slot and Petr Mrazek is forced to make a save for the first time in some 10 minutes.
7:41 p.m.: First period ends scoreless. To call this an uneventful period of hockey would be, at worst, accurate. Shots 7-2 for the Flyers.
7:50 p.m.: Weird first period. Shot attempts were actually pretty even (13-12 Flyers overall, 12-7 Columbus at 5-on-5), but the Flyers clearly got more out of their attempts (shots 7-2, scoring chances 8-4 via Natural Stat Trick). Let’s see if things open up at all in the second.
7:59 p.m.: Underway in the second period.
8:01 p.m.: Petr Mrazek, hello. New guy aggressively plays a shot in the slot to make a nice save on Zach Werenski in the opening moments of the frame.
8:06 p.m.: Flyers get their first good pressure of the period with the top line out. Columbus definitely looking a bit better to start this period than the Flyers are.
8:10 p.m.: Long shift there for the Lindblom/Laughton/Leier line (there’s gotta be a nickname there, right?), with an icing at one end and a scoring chance at the other. A bit quieter evening so far for Lindblom in his second career NHL game.
8:15 p.m.: That’s about right for this evening. Couturier picks off a pass in the Columbus zone, and he and Giroux both pass to one another when they’d probably have been well-served to shoot it. And now Couturier will go off for tripping.
8:18 p.m.: Columbus’ power play ends (just after we crossed the halfway point of this game). Jori Lehtera makes a genuinely good play with a diving poke check to get the puck out to Couturier, who’s coming out of the box. Couturier moves into the offensive zone, 1-on-1 with a defender ... and the play’s blown dead. No clue at all why. We’ll find out after the commercial break. In the meantime, shots on goal are 9-8 Columbus at the midway point.
8:21 p.m.: So the whistle was blown because Columbus had too many men on the ice. Still an early and incorrect whistle by the refs, who should have waited until Columbus got control of the puck, but hey, we’re off to the man-advantage.
8:23 p.m.: Sheesh. Giroux whiffs on a big shot attempt and Mrazek is forced to make a good save while on the power play. Flyers are giving the new guy a chance to make up for lost time after a low-event first period.
8:24 p.m.: And we’ve got our first goal of the game, and the other guys get it. Provorov makes a point-to-point pass along the blue line right as the power play expires, Panarin (coming out of the penalty box) pops in front of the pass before it gets to Andrew MacDonald, gets a partial breakaway, and beats Mrazek to open things up. 1-0. Ugly period for the Flyers.
8:27 p.m.: Long offensive shift for the Flyers’ top line and top defensive pairing ends with a lot of zone time but only a few misses and no shots on goal. Shots are 10-1 Columbus in the period as we hit the third commercial break.
8:31 p.m.: Dubois elbows MacDonald and the Flyers will get another shot at the man-advantage. Can we, like ... get a goal? And if not that maybe just one shot? I’m not that picky.
8:33 p.m.: My goodness. Three Flyers get caught low on the power play, and Columbus ends up getting three decent looks on Mrazek while shorthanded. The new guy shuts them all down, including one on which he was forced to snow angel a bit. Power play is now over. Let’s get through this period. Not good.
8:37 p.m.: Sean Couturier gets a crack at Bobrovsky off a nice passing sequence from Giroux and Voracek (that’s been a line for the later part of this period, by the way), but Bob shuts it down with about five seconds left in the period, and we’ll head to the second intermission down 1-0. Shots were 14-6 Columbus that period. Gross. Going to need another third-period rally tonight.
8:55 p.m.: Off to it we go in the third.
8:58 p.m.: We are definitely on Line Blender watch as this period gets going. Top line remains intact for now, but we just had a Lindblom/Patrick/Voracek showing on the second shift of the period.
8:59 p.m.: HOCKEY GOAL! Claude Giroux snipes it high glove over Bobrovsky in the slot, after a pass banks off of Zach Werenski’s skate to the captain in the high slot. We’re tied.
9:01 p.m.: Funniest thing about this goal is that it came seconds after a positively brutal defensive shift by that top line. Giroux and Couturier both had uncharacteristic giveaways in their own end on this shift. But, no one’s gonna remember that, so did it really even happen?
CLAUDE GIROUX. TIED GAME.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 23, 2018
YOU'RE OFF THE CASE, BOBROVSKY! pic.twitter.com/uqZTxjt87o
9:03 p.m.: Hey, it feels like we got an actual hockey game now. This is fun! (Please do not let me regret saying this.)
9:05 p.m.: Every so often Brandon Manning makes a great offensive play like that one and we all just kind of hold our breath, y’know? (Nice wraparound chance there. Nothing came of it.)
9:08 p.m.: Goodness. Puck squirts through Mrazek after he makes a save on his own post, it sits out in front of the open net for a second, and Voracek gets there to clear it before Columbus gets an easy go-ahead goal. Gotta make things interesting here!
9:11 p.m.: Good lord. Brutal play by Brandon Dubinsky, who throws his knee out at Claude Giroux’s to send Giroux to the ice. A crowd of well-meaning gentlemen gathers around Dubinsky, some pleasantries are exchanged, and the refs thankfully do not even up the calls and send Dubinsky off for tripping. Big power play with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. (UPDATE: Here is that “hit”.)
9:12 p.m.: Hopefully Brandon Dubinsky feels extremely sad and bad right now, because the Flyers just took the lead! Nolan Patrick doing a beautiful Wayne Simmonds impression to put home a rebound. 2-1 Flyers.
9:14 p.m.: Three-game goal streak for Nolan Patrick, by the way. Great work to clean up the Gostisbehere rebound.
NOLAN PATRICK SCORES ON THE POWER PLAY, FLYERS LEAD 2-1. pic.twitter.com/cWPulBhF0C— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 23, 2018
9:22 p.m.: Claude Giroux just lost his first faceoff of the night. He was 14-0 before that one. We’re under six minutes in the game.
9:23 p.m.: Uuuuuugly shift there by the fourth line and AMac/Hagg pairing that somehow manages to come and go without a game-tying goal.
9:25 p.m.: Patrick and Voracek get a 2-on-1 with under 4 minutes left but it’s turned aside by Bobrovsky. Then, great shift by Lindblom to eat the puck for a few seconds while those two get a change.
9:26 p.m.: Brandon Manning appears to be hurt after a big hit and limps off the ice. More pressing concerns at the moment, but put a pin in that for later.
9:27 p.m.: Now it’s Giroux and Couturier who have a 2-on-1, but Giroux can’t get a stick on what may have been the clincher had he not missed it. Columbus gets it into the offensive zone and calls timeout with 1:28 left after a stoppage.
9:31 p.m.: Oh my god why are you passing this much when you’re staring at an empty net.
The Philadelphia Flyers, when we see an empty net we pass and don't shoot! pic.twitter.com/pp1Cltb88e— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 23, 2018
9:32 p.m.: Maddening final seconds aside, the Flyers win! Points in 10 straight, wins in eight of their last nine. Petr Mrazek wins his first game with the Flyers and will, in all likelihood, never lose again. Train keeps on rolling. Ottawa on Saturday, Montreal on Monday. Go Flyers.