clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Flyers pull off thrilling 3-2 overtime win over Penguins in exhibition game

The Flyers are back!

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

*airhorn* WE’RE BACK FOLKS!

The Flyers were back in action today with their first exhibition game against the Penguins and oh man did it end beautifully.

It wasn’t the prettiest of starts, as we probably would have predicted. The first happening that I noted was Kevin Hayes dropping his stick, so that’s where we were at. We had some messy passing and some coverage lapsing, which is also how the Flyers ended up down 1-0 just past the five minute mark on a goal by Connor Sheary.

But! It’s not all bad news! Michael Raffl took a hooking penalty and the Flyers gave us a strong first bit of penalty killing, and also claimed back some momentum to pull into the lead. Sean Couturier picked up the first goal of the game for the Flyers, and with under a minute to go in the first period, Kevin Hayes got the Flyers the lead off an Evgeni Malkin turnover, and the Flyers hit the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.

The second period, relatively speaking, was a bit less eventful. We had no further scoring, but still a handful of good chances, and the Flyers continued to look like they were getting their legs back under them. What really shone, though, in this period were the special teams. The Flyers had one more penalty to kill, and again the penalty kill looked sharp, with Hayes giving them an extra bit of spark, making a breakout and eating up a bunch of clock all on his own. You know, normal Hayes things.

The Flyers also got a look on the power play, and while they weren’t able to convert on anything, they did generate a good amount of pressure and some quality chances, so that gives us something to be pleased with.

And now, on to the third period! Brian Elliott came in for the final frame, as was decided ahead of time, and seemed fine coming in more or less cold. And the Flyers also had another penalty to kill, as Jake Voracek was sent off, and Elliott was tested pretty immediately with a bomb from Malkin. But the Flyers recovered well and were able to keep the puck away from the Penguins for most of the rest of those two minutes, and successfully killed off the penalty, in turn. The pace picked up a bit as the game went on, as Malkin test Elliott a few more times, and Hayes and Couturier had some more good chances for the Flyers. We though we might just be able to coast through the end of the period with the lead, but fate is always a cruel thing. A shot by Malkin turned into a rebound, and Jason Zucker put it away to tie things up. Sigh.

And, because the Flyers really are back, we got overtime. The Flyers got the first bit of pressure and then immediately had to break up a three-on-one, which thankfully they did. A chance for Hayes was stopped and then the Flyers found themselves back hemmed in their own zone and getting peppered with chances, and Elliott had to come up big for them.

But the Flyers came out on top! With a perfect stretch pass from Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton was sprung on a breakaway for the chance to win it, and he made a great move to do just that.

Two big questions

1. How quickly will they shake off the rust?

I don’t know that the rust is completely gone, but it did feel like the Flyers were getting better and better as the game went on. The pace was good and they seemed to be connecting a bit better on their passes as we got into the second and third periods. There were still some miscues and they certainly weren’t perfect, but we’ll still take a bit of improvement. Some of the rust was indeed shaken off, and they were at least trending in the right direction. We’ll take that.

2. How will Egor Zamula look?

In perhaps a surprising turn of event, Zamula made sort of his NHL debut today, and as the newbie, a lot of eyes were turned to him to see how he’d fare, even if it was in just an exhibition game. And he did pretty well! Overall, the on-ice product for the team was, well, about what we might have expected for their first game back, but Zamula seemed to be mostly holding his own. It was a bit of a mixed bag, in that he showed some physicality and made a couple of nice passes, but he also made some turnovers off of weaker, less precise passes. He didn’t look wholly out of place, but it’s clear there’s still some work that needs to be done.

Three stars

1. Shayne Gostisbehere

One player a number of us were likely eager to see in this one was Gostisbehere. He had a rough regular season, and coming off of a second knee surgery, it was an open question whether he was going to be able to get back into form for the post-season. And the good news, gang, is that he gave us a lot to like in this one. He certainly wasn’t exempt from the first game messiness, but the big takeaway was that he was looking much more mobile and making plays and just generally looking a lot like his old self. And really, that’s exactly what we needed to see from him. He didn’t get himself on the scoresheet, but that’s okay. He took that step forward from when we last saw him, and did well to quiet some of our worries.

2. Kevin Hayes

Hayes really had himself a game, folks. He picked up one goal and a handful of really good scoring chances, and we already noted that he seemed to be picking up right where he left off with his positive impacts on the penalty kill. We’re still not sure we’re completely sold on his line’s configuration at 5-on-5, but Hayes himself put up a really solid individual effort. We loved him during the regular season as he played something of an energizing role, and it really feels like he’s back and didn’t miss a beat in that regard.

3. The top line

The Flyers will still have some work to do with arranging their forward lines and finding some chemistry there, but the Flyers’ top line of Couturier, Giroux, and Voracek gave us some strong initial returns in this one. They weren’t perfect, but they were able to generate some really good chances and generate some pressure, and just seemed to be working the most cohesively, of any of the Flyers’ lines. And that’s really just what we want to be seeing from those big names. Whether or not they’ll stay together heading into the round robin is yet to be seen, but they did make a strong case for themselves to stay together and be leaned upon as we head into these seeding games.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Broad Street Hockey Weekly Roundup newsletter!

A weekly roundup of Philadelphia Flyers news from Broad Street Hockey