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Islanders 5, Flyers 3: Not good enough

Simple as that, needs to be better.

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

This game happening at this time of the season, against THIS team, flat out inexcusable. Losing to the Devils 5-0 is one thing, it happens. Bad teams magically beat good ones all the time because this sport is stupid 90 percent of the time. But to go down 3-0 in the first period to a team you are directly competing with for a playoff spot? And then to make it all the way back and tie it with just over a minute and a half to go, just to give up the winning goal not even a minute later? Not here for it, fam. No excuses.

Recap

Well, if there were ever two periods of hockey that unequivocally contradict one another, it would be this game’s first and second periods for the Flyers. In the first, it looked like we’d be in for a long night and a numbing loss, after two really good games vs. Florida and Washington. Then, the second period came along and the Flyers looked exactly as they did in those previous two games.

Hell, they even managed to tie the damn thing late in the game, but then as if we pulled some Back to the Future bullshit we traveled back to the Hakstol days and gave up the winning goal. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that annoyed with a loss, but ah, yeah, this one stings.

Answering the bell

1. A little more from the top six?

Well, Giroux had a two point night, and both Konecny and Couturier scored so overall it wasn’t a bad night for the top six. There were issues at times and they definitely struggled to find their footing in the first period, but the same goes for the whole damn team.

2. Slog-fest incoming?

Surprisingly not, actually? The Flyers had decent energy at the start of this game but once the goals came from the Isles you could see that dissipate. From the second period on however, the comeback was on and it was honestly a fairly entertaining hockey game. That is, until the Flyers tied the game and wandered around going “Wait, why are we still playing, we tied it shouldn’t we be in over ... huh they just scored, that’s wild.”

Three stars

1. Travis Konecny

Konecny was one of the few Flyers who were really flying from the jump. When they were barely generating offense, it was Konecny who was carrying the load. He picked up his 19th goal of the season and his 47th point, placing him just two away from tying his career-high that he set last season.

2. Brian Elliott

Although you’d like to see your goalie make a save on that go-ahead goal, without Elliott this game isn’t even worth watching with less than a minute to go. He made some clutch saves to keep them in the game early, when the defensive effort was leaving him hung out to dry. He’ll want that last goal back, but the effort leading up to it was that of the Hakstol era when they would tie a game up late.

3. Sean Couturier

Couturier was his usual self tonight, and gets the third star because of his game-tying goal which should have sent the game to overtime. Alas...

Four Observations

1. Another slow start

The Flyers have improved a lot, and I mean a lot of things since Dave Hakstol was fired last season. There are clear differences between how this team played under him, but last night felt like a Hakstol game. Get your teeth kicked in throughout the opening period, crawl your way back into the game to tie it late, give up the winning goal directly after because ... reasons?

It was so painfully obvious the Islanders were going to score the second they dropped the puck after the tying goal. The Flyers clearly just didn’t bring it and thought they could survive until overtime. They thought wrong, and it cost them at the very least a point. It’s just one point, but every single one of those damn things are so meaningful this time of year. Especially when you’re playing a team you could have passed in the standings if you beat them.

2. The response

While it ended up being all for not, the response from this team was truly fun to watch. The Flyers bludgeoned the Islanders in the second and third periods posting a 61.54 Corsi in both, and really turned up the expected goals game in the third. They ended up losing the overall expected goals battle due to the monstrosity that was the first period, but they were even with the Isles in the second, and dominated in the third by a 0.76 to 0.37 margin.

It’s been a theme this year of “just survive the first period and then watch the team run roughshod in the second and third.” Well, that works when you hold your opponent to zero goals, or even one, maybe two if it’s a team like the Red Wings. But when it’s the New York Islanders who have Barry Trotz voodoo wizardry bullshit magic on their side? A’int. Gonna. Work.

3. The go-ahead goal

I just ... man this one hurts. At the end of the day Elliott needs to make the save, but what in the world was that effort. Mat Barzal put Phil Myers in the spin cycle to evade him, and get behind the net to make the pass to Ryan Pulock who would score the winner. I love James van Riemsdyk, but there needs to be a better close out there on Pulock, or at the very least fake the aggressive shot block to get him to hesitate on the shot.

Is that nitpicking? Probably, but getting a point out of this game would have been so huge. It would have sucked to lose in overtime, but at least in that scenario the Islanders don’t put as big of a gap on you. Everyone had a garbage effort on the goal so I don’t want to make it out like JVR is the main culprit, but he and Elliott needed to be better for sure.

4. Missed opportunities

This game featured so many missed chances for the Flyers, which honestly makes the loss sting even more. There was the Konecny open net miss, the scramble in front of the net where like three Flyers players had a chance to ram it home, and countless others where they needed to have more finish. We’re reaching the point of the season where just playing well isn’t good enough, getting points is what matters, and they were left on the board last night.