After a pretty disappointing (to say the least) loss against the Islanders on Tuesday, the Flyers were back at it tonight to hopefully get themselves back on track and keep the Panthers from gaining any ground on them in the standings.
They, it feels a little strange to say, got off to a pretty good start, and with a strong first shift for the fourth line, Michael Raffl got a chance on the rush and while he didn’t get a good shot off, he did draw a penalty to send the Flyers to the power play early. They didn’t really have a whole lot going on on that power play, as they saw themselves chased out of the zone and giving up a couple of chances shorthanded, but they picked up a little momentum as they went on, and this meant picking up a goal just after the power play expired. Because of course.
JVR gives the Flyers the lead! pic.twitter.com/5WSaFFIfJ5— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 14, 2020
And I had about half of a paragraph written in my head after that, ready to put down as the period was coming to an end, about how the Flyers, even with a second chance on the power play, still really didn’t have a whole lot going on for them. Then they got a couple of chances on the rush. And then, inside two and a half minutes to go, Tyler Pitlick scored on the rush. And then about a minute later, Nic Aube-Kubel got a chance on the rush, didn’t score, but picked up the rebound and then got it past Sergei Bobrovsky. Are you noticing a trend, here. Anyway, the Flyers hit the first intermission with a 3-0 lead.
With that first period effort apparently enough to chase Bobrovsky from the game, the Flyers started the second period with Samuel Montemeault to solve, and they got right after it, with a couple of dangerous chances early. They were buzzing through much of the first half of the period, but had that halted when Justin Braun took a penalty and they had a Panthers power play to deal with. The good news? They did that with relative ease, keeping the Panthers largely chased out of their offensive zone, and then came out on the other side with their foot still on the gas. The Panthers picked up a bit of momentum through the second half of the period, but the Flyers crushed that pretty easily, with Scott Laughton taking a feed from James van Riemsdyk and putting the Flyers up 4-0 with just over a minute left in the period. How about that.
The Flyers were hoping to put this one away cleanly, but they were going to have their work cut out for them, as Jonathan Huberdeau got the Panthers on the board early in the third and gave his team some life. They started a surge and the Flyers were just holding on for dear life. They were in trouble, as they started looking scrambly and Aleksander Barkov took advantage, getting one past Hart just before the five minute mark.
We spent the next few minutes watching anxiously as the Flyers fought to hang on to their two goal lead, and then, something pretty cool happened. With about five minutes left in the period, Claude Giroux was able to force a turnover to feed it to Sean Couturier, who got moving on the rush, fought through some traffic, and slipped it past Montembeault. So, back to a three goal lead.
Giroux intercepts a pass and sends Couturier the other way -- a much needed insurance goal! pic.twitter.com/ed2hgq4SKY— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 14, 2020
The Flyers got a bit of jump back after that, picking up a couple more good chances while still working to hold the Panthers off. They did so with relative ease, keeping the Panthers at bay. And hey, to cap things off, they would get some power play time to close things out, as van Riemsdyk was tripped up with 55 seconds to go.
And, as the icing on the cake. Robert Hagg scored on the power play. I have nothing more to add here.
1. Carter Hart
We were hoping that Hart would get a shutout in this one, and he made it through two periods of that, but it wasn’t in the cards, it seems. But, all the same, Hart played a very good game and was critical in keeping the Flyers settled while the Panthers were surging late in the game. He was good across the board, but he was outstanding in the third when they really needed him the most. It was enough to stabilize them, until they got back on track. He was, in short, the real key to this win.
2. James van Riemsdyk
There was so much scoring going on in this one that it’s really hard to pull out just one skater to praise on his own, but we’re still doing it, because van Riemsdyk really had himself a game. He picked up three points on the night and just seemed to be all over the place, generating chances for himself and his linemates and just generally making things difficult on the Panthers. It was a pretty complete effort from him (and capped off with a bit of feistiness, to boot!), and it was just a real delight to see.
3. Just... the whole fourth line, gang
It was pretty apparent right from the get go, but the fourth line of Michael Raffl, Connor Bunnaman, and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was really on tonight. They only played 8:37 tonight, but they were active and noticeable with their energy and forechecking. They combined for a goal by Aube-Kubel, but put up a number of good chances throughout the night. In short, they did just about everything that you want to see from your fourth line, and then just a little bit more.
Two quick takeaways
1. What a response!
The end of this one was decidedly not ideal, but the Flyers actually played a good first period, and that kind of energy and response was exactly what we needed from them after what we got from them against the Islanders. They didn’t get caught in any kind of hangover, they just came out, kept their heads down, and made the most of their chances. It wasn’t the prettiest effort, start to finish, but it worked.
2. We love odd-man rushes
In the past couple of seasons, the Flyers had really gotten eaten alive by the Panthers and their ability to create space up the middle of the ice for odd-man rushes, but tonight it was the Flyers’ turn to get in on that action, and it really paid off for them, In a way, it feels like justice, and we kind of love it.
Play of the night
Whew. It’s gotta be this save by Hart.