The Philadelphia Flyers had a very winnable game on the docket on Tuesday night against the Arizona Coyotes. The 3-0 final score shows that they did the job, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as it could’ve been.
Carter Hart was forced to make 29 saves in his third career shutout, and the Flyers didn’t give him any offensive support until the third period. Sean Couturier finally got the first good goal of the game nearly seven minutes into the third period. Then the Flyers struck twice in the final minutes –– one empty-netter –– to ice the game.
Let’s take a look at how all three Flyers goals unfolded on Tuesday night against the Coyotes.
The Flyers broke the ice after knocking on the door for their previous few shifts. Each of the team’s four lines had a solid shift leading up to the goal. The fourth and third lines, in particular, put in good efforts directly before the goal.
That led to a clear by the Coyotes, allowing the Flyers to get their top guys back on the ice. And they made quick work of it.
Claude Giroux picked up the puck from Ivan Provorov with his head up and surveyed the ice. Here’s what he saw:
The Coyotes, after a change, had their skaters in close to a 1-4 formation. Sean Couturier was in the middle of the ice with Travis Konecny on the right side.
Arizona shifted towards Giroux, however, opening up the right side of the ice.
Giroux turned into the middle and sent a cross-ice pass to Konecny, who did a great job of evading Ilya Lyubushkin. Couturier took advantage of the open ice on the left side. He got behind his man and joined the two-on-one with Konecny. The two connected to open the scoring.
Now let’s see it in action.
Giroux immediately picked his head up, made his move, and sent it to Konecny. Konecny had the puck go off his stick and then the boards and got around Lyubushkin to retrieve it. He saw Couturier joining the play with ice in front of him and fed Coots for the one-time goal
The behind-the-net angle gives a good look at what Giroux saw –– and how great of a play it was. It’s Giroux’s vision and playmaking ability that are going to extend his career and keep him playing at a top-line or top-six level for the near future. He’s off to a great start and that continued on Tuesday night.
Of course, Giroux’s great play wouldn’t have resulted in a goal had it not been for the pass by Konecny and finish by Couturier.
You have to give credit to Karel Vejmelka. He was frustrating the Flyers all night up until that point. Couturier elevated the puck to finally open the scoring nearly midway through the third period.
The Flyers didn’t back down after that. Arizona had some offensive-zone time in the final minutes and tried to pull Vejmelka with around 2:20 to go, but the Flyers had other plans.
James van Riemsdyk intercepted a pass at the blue line with the Coyotes netminder halfway to the bench. JVR fired a shot toward the yawning cage as Vejmelka desperately dove to defend his net. Neither JVR or Vejmelka were successful, however, but the Flyers forward kept grinding away.
Justin Braun was the first player to the puck and rimmed it up the boards to van Riemsdyk. He found Scott Laughton across the ice for a 1-on-1 situation with Vejmelka, who just barely got set in the crease. Laughton slid one through the Coyotes netminder to all but put the game away.
The Flyers put the cherry on top with an actual empty-net goal 32 seconds later. Konecny forced a turnover along the boards and Giroux led the rush with Travis Sanheim. Couturier got the puck from Sanheim and unselfishly passed it to the captain for the empty-netter.
Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier each finished with a goal and an assist in the game. Laughton scored the other goal with Konecny, van Riemsdyk, Braun, and Sanheim also picking up assists.