The Flyers earned a come-from-behind win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday night thanks to Jordan Weal’s seventh goal of the season, and with just four seconds to spare no less. It’s the Flyers’ fifth-straight win in the overtime session, and good news as they’ve failed to win in the shootout this season (0-4).
Wayne Simmonds answered Elias Lindholm’s late first period tally with a late marker of his own in the second to tie things up headed to the third. Things were tight checking in the final 20 minutes and despite a late charge, the Flyers and Canes would need overtime, which featured a slew of chances for both teams —some of the better ones coming for the Canes—before Weal put an end to the proceedings just before the buzzer.
It was a huge two points for the Flyers coming off of four-straight losses, and a gut check time for Dave Hakstol’s club as they battle for ground in the ever-crowded Metropolitan Division. With the win the Flyers hopped back into playoff position, though things are very fluid at the moment in the postseason picture.
As always, here are 10 things we learned from the Flyers’ most recent overtime heroics...in no particular order.
Brian Elliott returns, brings stability in crease
Seeing his first game action since Jan. 23 at Detroit, Elliott was back to business as usual and his normal solid self as the veteran came up with save after save as the Flyers got off to a sluggish start in Carolina.
He turned aside nine of 10 shots in the first period that saw the Flyers put up better numbers than their actual play reflected. Through two periods the Flyers were outshooting the Canes, 21-10, but trailed in high-dangers chances per NaturalStatTrick.
Elliott wasn’t busy in the third, but was huge in overtime. He turned aside all six Canes shots in the extra session and won’t be making friends with Elias Lindholm or Jeff Skinner anytime soon. Jordan Weal doesn’t have a chance to pot the winner without Elliott’s play until that point, and he continued to do what he’s done for the Flyers all season: give them a chance to win.
Wayne Simmonds celebrates 500th game as a Flyer in style
Since coming over in a trade with Los Angeles, Wayne Simmonds has been the epitome of what being a Philadelphia Flyer is all about. A player who wears his emotions on his sleeves and leaves every damn thing he has on the ice.
So it was fitting that Simmonds was able to find the back of the net in a milestone game for him in the Orange and Black. And it’s rather poetic that this goal, his 18th of the season, looked like what I’d imagine 90% of his 181 goals as a Flyer have looked.
It looked like a typical Simmonds power play goal, stuffing home a rebound at the top of the crease after a few cracks at it, except this one was at even strength. Like many of Simmonds’ goals before, it wasn’t pretty anywhere but on the score sheet. Also credit Andrew MacDonald and Jake Voracek for firing pucks toward the net as the Flyers had the Canes running around a bit in their own zone.
Jordan Weal plays hero
Weal didn’t play a ton (11:26 TOI) but was noticeable when he was out there and obviously with the game-winning goal. He had three shots and would have loved to have the chance back on that two-on-one that saw him fail to get off a shot.
It’s nice to see Weal rewarded with the goal after a solid game putting up good possession numbers (52.38% Corsi For) and get snake-bit on a good scoring chance. Though, it was a great job by Trevor Van Riemsdyk to take away Weal’s options on that odd-man rush, no less.
His winner in overtime showed everything that Weal does that the Flyers love, but also what he needs to do more. There was the burst and skill carrying the puck up ice that we’ve seen, but not enough of Weal hitting the back of the net, which he did with some help from Cam Ward.
Nolan Patrick: good cop, bad cop
Tuesday saw two sides of Nolan Patrick, first the bad with a four-minute double minor for a shoulder/elbow up high on Brock McGinn just after the midway mark of the first period. Carolina made the rookie pay, scoring on the second half of the four-minute power play against a tired Flyers penalty kill.
The Flyers’ prized rookie hasn’t been very disciplined lately and while he disagreed with the call, he definitely interfered—at the very least—with McGinn and left the Canes’ forward pretty well bloodied. He only has 20 penalty minutes in 44 games, so it’s not a problem but Patrick has to avoid undisciplined penalties like this one that really hurt his club.
But then there was also the good Nolan Patrick, the one who was all over the ice after his penalty, picked up an assist on Simmonds’ goal, led all Flyers forwards with four shots and finished with a Corsi For of 53.85%. Patrick is surging with points in three of his last four (two goals, two assists) and has started to produce after being moved up in the lineup.
And the best part? He’s only scratching the surface of what he can do at the NHL level.
When blocking shots isn’t always a good thing
The Flyers blocked a ton of shots in this one, and I mean a ton of shots, as in 28 for the night. They blocked 15 in the first period alone, but don’t get caught up in those numbers just yet.
Yes blocking shots is good, and it helps out your goaltender more often than not, but when you are being forced to block that many shots it means that you’re not possessing the puck and you’re spending far too much time in your own zone. And that’s exactly what was happening to the Flyers in the first period and for long stretches the rest of the game.
It’s not a surprise to see that Carolina dominated much of the possession numbers, posting a 57.14% Corsi For in all situations. Things were tighter at even strength where the Flyers kept things closer, but the Canes still had the bulk of the puck and were the more dangerous team throughout.
Power play struggles against 25th-ranked penalty kill of Carolina
The Hurricanes own one of the NHL’s worst penalty kills, but the numbers are decieving since they’re also one of the NHL’s most disciplined teams.
They spend on average just 6.17 minutes shorthanded per game, the fewest of any team. For some perspective, the Flyers sit at 9.25 minutes per game.
The point here is that their penalty kill percentage probably isn’t indicative of how good their penalty kill really is because the numbers are skewed due to lack of opportunity. They made it look easy defending the Flyers’ now ninth-ranked power play, denying zone entries and keeping the puck to the outside when the Flyers did get setup. Carolina also had a few shorthanded chances, something that has hurt the Flyers of late.
Carolina’s penalty kill is better than it gets credit for, but the Flyers failed to take advantage on any of their five power plays on the night and that’s disappointing. Even against a good penalty kill you expect to find the net at least once in those five chances.
The growing pains of a rookie defenseman
Robert Hagg is a work in progress as a rookie defenseman in the NHL and Tuesday showed a big reason why. In the first period Hagg was beaten to a spot in front of his own net by Elias Lindholm, who then scored on a second attempt at the net because Hagg was out of position.
The rookie didn’t do enough to clear Lindholm out of the front of the net as he was free to get two cracks at Brian Elliott and put home the second, which just can’t happen. Hagg surely was tired deep into the Patrick double-minor, but the Canes didn’t make a line change at any point and at the very least better positioning from Hagg could have saved a goal.
The coaching staff will get with Hagg and he’ll learn from what happened, but these are the things you go through with young players playing and learning on the fly in key situations.
Travis Konecny was flying
The second-year forward had a great overall game, though the score sheet won’t say it. He showed how his speed and quickness add a ton to the Flyers’ forward corps.
Konecny drew a penalty on Justin Faulk in the first, and had quality zone entries pushing back the Canes defense with the threat of his speed. For a team that struggles with zone entries from time to time, someone like Konecny, who can gain the zone with ease is huge in terms of generating offense when things are tight.
His burst of speed created a chance for Claude Giroux with 10:30 left, but Giroux was slashed on the way in alone on Ward, giving the Flyers a key power play down the stretch. Konecny didn’t find himself much in the box score, but he had a ton of jump in this one and was one of the more dangerous Flyers on the ice.
The officials had a forgetful final minutes
First the officials granted Carolina a timeout after they had iced the puck, which is a no-no. The Flyers players were incensed and by the time the officials realized what was going on, the Canes’ players were at the bench and as rested as they could have been.
Then they blew a clear hooking penalty on Sebastian Aho in overtime as he impeded a Couturier scoring chance. But they weren’t done there as an official was hit with a clearing attempt that spurned what looked to be an odd-man rush for the Flyers up the ice.
In the end, the no-call on Sean Couturier was the most egregious since there were only six players out at the time and it was just such a blatant penalty. They were lucky that Jordan Weal bailed them out with time left on the clock or the Flyers would have been very unhappy campers.
Penalty kill tries to build momentum
Yes, the Flyers did give up a power play goal in this one but they also killed off three of four in the game and avoided giving up multiple power play goals as they did in losses to both the Devils and Capitals last week.
And there was progress as the Flyers gave up just four total shots on the Canes’ four chances. After the first two Canes power plays featured a bunch of failed clears from the Flyers, they tightened things up the rest of the way and simplified their game to find better results.
Let’s see if the Flyers can take some of the positives from the penalty kill both tonight and against Ottawa over the weekend and take it into Thursday’s matchup with Montreal.