The defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning came to the northeast to take on the Philadelphia Flyers in their first meeting of three on the season. Without Kevin Hayes in the lineup, the Flyers were looking to try and begin a winning streak after falling on some tough times in their recent stint of games,
The Flyers needed to start strong, and they did. The first chance came from Scott Laughton on the rush that Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy quickly sent away. Then, the captain Claude Giroux broke through the Tampa defense just a minute and 34 seconds into the period and scored the game’s first goal. It was a super slick move from selling the backhand to bringing it back forehand, and it paid off.
The pace in the first period started out extremely fast, and it stayed at that level. Brayden Point and Travis Konecny both had strong rushes up the ice that didn’t lead to much of anything, but it’s a strong representation of the way these two teams play at their best. After allowing the goal, the Lightning started to seriously maintain pressure in the offensive zone. Even though they didn’t score, the Flyers could not keep up with their fast and intelligent cycling abilities.
Giroux almost got his second point of the game on a counterpunch rush attack. Giroux was patient with the puck in the defensive end and shot it backhand down the boards through the neutral zone. Cam Atkinson was able to poke it to the middle for the rushing defenseman Justin Braun. He didn’t score, and it was hard to expect a different result. After all, he is used for his defense and not for his shot.
Even though that particular shot didn’t go in, it didn’t matter. Remember when I mentioned Konecny breaking out of the zone with speed? Well, it happened again, and this time he converted with a great shot on an odd-man rush. A shot that Vasilevskiy couldn’t save made the game 2-0 slightly over halfway through the first frame.
Probably the most notable observation to start the night is the defense on a team that is excellent in rebounding with adversity and plays at an extremely high tempo. Even though the Lightning did control the shots, there weren’t many that resulted in a truly high-danger chance. Carter Hart made the saves that he needed to make, but in terms of threatening chances, there were hardly any.
Late into the period, Rasmus Ristolainen took an interference penalty on Anthony Cirelli, who tried to break into the zone for a good scoring chance on the young Canadian goaltender. One good save by Hart in the remaining minute, but the period ends with the Flyers on top 2-0 but down 5-on-4 for one minute and 15 more seconds. Tampa Bay led the expected goals for (xGF) battle by a slim margin with 0.54 compared to the Flyers’ 0.42 per Evolving-Hockey.
“The second period has got to be our best period,” Giroux said this in the first intermission, and boy, it was not.
After killing off the penalty that was carried over, the Flyers took another one. Braun got called for tripping, and Point made them pay. After generating some potent offense in the first period, he finally got rewarded with the man advantage. Hart got a piece of it, but it wasn’t enough.
The Flyers didn’t play the second as well as many would have liked. They got a few decent chances, but nothing worthy of talking about here. Point was flying around; Ondrej Palat was entering the zone with puck control and waiting for the calvary, and the Flyers were essentially getting walked all over. The biggest play halfway through the period was Hart stuffing the young Ross Colton on a play where he was able to slip past the defenseman to receive a great pass.
A great start to the game quickly turned sour in the middle frame as the Lightning tied it 2-2. After two more great chances from Point in front of the net that eventually drew an offensive zone faceoff, the Lightning found the back of the net again. This time, Mathieu Joseph took a shot from the point that was slowed down by Braun in front of the net and threw it by the extended pad of Hart. If you didn’t see that one coming, I don’t know what to tell you.
The Flyers took another penalty, and thanks to some excellent forechecking from Nate Thompson, a shorthanded slapshot chance from Atkinson, and plenty of other great plays, they were able to kill it. The referees missed a blatant call with around two minutes remaining, and it was after the Flyers started to generate some zone time and chances. They had been getting beat down the entire period, so it was good to see some fight in them.
Towards the end of the period, the Flyers hit a post, and they even drew a penalty as the Lightning did at the end of the first period. Joseph was the culprit with a hooking penalty. There was a good chance as the horn sounded, but the score at the end of the second was all knotted up. The margin of xGF did separate some more, with the Lightning getting an even two and the Flyers earning a 1.21.
On an excellent set play on the opening faceoff, Konecny had his shot saved by Vasilevskiy on the power play. The puck movement looked wonderful in the zone on the 5-on-4 advantage, but unfortunately, there was no luck, and the score remained tied at two.
Sean Couturier got his best chance of the game to start the period, and shortly after, Pat Maroon took a delay of game penalty by shooting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. It didn’t result in anything other than moaning and groaning from fans and the sentient blog.
Now *that* power play, on the other hand, was just stinky.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 19, 2021
Some excellent scoring chances followed that relatively poor showing on the power play after, which was essential to maintaining pressure. Speaking of keeping pressure, Ivan Provorov had a shift filled with action at the period’s halfway point. He wasn’t able to convert on both an odd-man rush and a drive to the front of the net, but he was able to control the puck and keep it on the side where the good guys try to score.
An interesting note: Hart did NOT want Colton to score on him tonight. He cut to the net hard after taking the puck away on a good forecheck, but the score remained tied thanks to a big pad stop. Hart was not having any of it.
Couturier with Joel Farabee and James van Riemsdyk is a line that looks like it could be extremely threatening if they’re kept together. They managed to create some solid chances late into the period with some excellent puck movement, and it was huge to keep the momentum in the Flyers’ direction.
Well, it happened. Hart gave up a soft one. Steven Stamkos scored from the goal line off an offensive zone faceoff with only 1:56 remaining in regulation. The crowd went completely silent, and it’s an unfortunate outcome for a Flyers team that was playing so well at the end of the game. At least...we thought.
Claude Giroux refuses to go down without a fight. So, naturally, he decided to score a goal with 8.1 seconds remaining. It’s what they deserved after a strong third period. The energy in the building was back, and wow, what a fun game.
The action was almost too quick to keep up with. So many players for both teams had great chances, and the goalies didn’t freeze the puck for the entire five-minute period. Point, Victor Hedman, Couturier, Konecny, Travis Sanheim, and many others had chances in the back and forth action, but no one put the puck in the net.
Couturier got rejected on the first shot for the Flyers. Stamkos, who started all of the chaos towards the end of the third, put it in the net. Giroux—the hero who tied the game—got stoned, and Point ended it in the shootout. It’s an unfortunate ending, but the Flyers came out of it with a point after falling behind late.
Three Big Things
- One of the biggest observations from this game was that the Flyers did an excellent job in their zone outside of one lousy period. Even though Point got to skate around the zone, he only scored one goal even though he probably deserved multiple. In the first period, the Lightning didn’t really test Hart with many high-danger opportunities. It was the same in the third period. Outside of the odd chances, I liked what I saw from the team in the defensive zone in those frames. Being consistent and playing like that in the second period is essential because the game is entirely different if they play like that for the full 60 minutes. However, it’s a start.
- With Hayes out, the big guns needed to step up, and they did. We’ve already talked about Giroux. But I also liked what I saw from Konecny and even Couturier towards the end of the game. They did what needed to be done with one of the most vital players to the roster out. They not only maintained strong possession of the puck, but they contributed on the scoresheet, and they played strong defense for the most part. It was the kind of performance that the Flyers were in dire need of.
- The Flyers miraculously came out with a point after falling down late in the third period. The rollercoaster of emotions that is this team continues to astound me, but it’s undeniable that they fought for every single goal tonight. Every point means something towards the end of the season, so pulling them out of games against one of the best teams in the NHL will pay its dividends. The outcome certainly wasn’t what anyone wanted, but they played until the buzzer sounded, and it’s still something to build off.
That’s all from me! Go Flyers!