The way this period started for the Flyers, the vibes at the end of the period were not expected to say the least. For the first five minutes or so, they actually pushed play very well against the Canes and had them on their heels. But, as the first 20 minutes wore on, a trend began to form that dictated the period.
Coming into tonight, the Flyers were second in the NHL in face-off percentage. The team ahead of them? Of course, the Carolina Hurricanes. Obviously, expecting the Flyers to dominate this team in the face-offs is a tad unrealistic, but the problem is that’s exactly what the Canes were doing. They won 80% of the draws in the first, and honestly if felt a lot worse.
The other disturbing trend is one that’s been happening over the past few games, the much maligned power play. Even with Keith Yandle being placed back on the top unit, the orange & black struggled mightily with the aggressive Hurricanes penalty kill. When they finally did generate a puck on goal, it was stopped and quickly cleared down the ice.
Carolina dominated the shot totals in the period 13-6, and out-Corsi’d the Flyers 18-12. While the Corsi battle may not look all that bad, the quality of the chances generated tells the tale. Carolina’s xGF was 0.78 to the Flyers’ 0.3. Against a team like this they simply have to be better than that.
Despite the Flyers putting together a slightly better period this time around, the Hurricanes still struck first and took a 1-0 lead into the third. They were able to limit the one-and-done offensive chances compared to the first 20 minutes, and even got some higher-quality looks, but the finish continues to be an issue of late.
Credit to the Canes, Freddie Andersen is playing out of his mind to start the season, and even though the Flyers got better quality attempts, they still only mustered seven shots on goal. What the Canes excel at is although they seem to shoot from anywhere, they follow up those shots extremely well and get second chances. This is exactly how they got the game’s opening goal.
Jordan Staal fired a shot that went wide but Jesper Fast was in perfect position to make a centering pass to Steven Lorentz who batted the puck out of midair into the back of the net. The Canes are so exceptional at positioning and winning battles and following up plays, and just about all of that was on display on this goal. The same was almost said for another goal, but rookie Seth Jarvis was offsides prior to scoring later in the play, resulting in the goal being taken off the board.
From the moment the period began the boys, as they say, we’re buzzing. And no one was buzzing more than the Beez himself, Joel Farabee. The Flyers’ winger hadn’t scored since the third game of the season, but after a sweet bank pass that this team has trademarked so far this year, he went five-hole on Andersen to tie the game one all. To get to this point though, the lines were changed even more entering the third, putting Farabee with Scott Laughton who made the pass, and Travis Konecny.
Joel Farabee ties it, great play from Laughton pic.twitter.com/4NIJfvcQR3— Nasty Knuckles (@NastyKnuckles) November 13, 2021
Despite a poor metrics night from the fourth line, they showed at times the ability to defend well enough, and waste time in the offensive zone. But really, they’ve done a great job of that all season. Nate Thompson, and newcomers Patrick Brown and Zack MacEwen have been a pleasant surprise, and finally they got rewarded.
After a nice play by Brown keeping the puck alive and getting it to Justin Braun, Braun lofted a simple wrister on net with MacEwen darting for the tip, and he got it. Mac tipped the puck by Andersen for his first goal as a Flyer to put them up 2-1 with less than half a period to go.
Zack MacEwen scores his first goal as a Flyer and it's a BIG one. pic.twitter.com/x0ZXlXrEcb— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 13, 2021
Konecny took an interference penalty shortly after the goal however, and it was up to the Flyers to survive a massive push from the Canes, and somehow they did just that. There was a flurry of shots directed Carter Hart’s way but by some kind of miracle the puck stayed out of the net and the Flyers cleared the first huge hurdle.
They’d get a power play of their own with just under six minutes left in the game, but to absolutely no one’s surprise it seemed more like a power play for the Canes. The Flyers would survive the shorthanded bids though thanks to the spectacular play of Hart yet again.
Hart would make the necessary saves down the stretch and the Flyers, somehow, survive and comeback all at the same time to beat the Carolina Hurricanes. It wasn’t pretty, but this was one hell of a gutsy win from this hockey team that we can all confidently say would not have come last season. Hart was phenomenal, and kept the Flyers in the game when they maybe didn’t deserve to be. The offense pushed at the exact right time and finally found the finish.
What. A. Win.