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Flyers 4, Senators 3: Sanheim sends Sens home in overtime

Travis Sanheim stole the second point for the Flyers in an interesting game against the Senators on Saturday night.

Heather Barry / SB Nation

The Flyers entered Saturday’s game on a four-game point streak, although it felt a bit hollow after Thursday’s shootout loss in Montreal. The Senators are one of the worst teams in the league but had five wins in their last seven games prior to Saturday night.

This was one of only five games played on Saturday after half of the games scheduled were postponed due to players and staff in COVID-19 protocol. The Flyers have Morgan Frost still on that list and Max Willman was added on Saturday, with Carter Hart not available due to an undetermined illness.

Joel Farabee returned to the lineup and made his presence felt with a few strong plays and the game-tying goal late in the third period. Oskar Lindblom played extremely well on the second line, especially early on, picking up a goal and an assist for his efforts.

It wasn’t the type of win you want, especially against the Senators, but the Flyers got the job done thanks to a Travis Sanheim goal in overtime.

The Flyers are (point) streaking still. Here’s how it happened.

First Period

The Flyers came out of the gates hot with a great chance on the first shift of the game. After the Senators entered the Flyers zone, Sean Couturier helped get the puck up ice to his wingers for a two-on-one chance. Travis Konecny sent a saucer pass to Joel Farabee in front, but his shot hit off the post just 30 seconds into the game.

That was the first of several strong plays made by Farabee in the first period and in the game. Mike Yeo put him right back onto the top line in his return from injury and it looked like he didn’t miss a beat.

That was only a sign of things to come as the Flyers controlled play for most of the first period.

The third line then had a decent scoring chance with Travis Sanheim finding Kevin Hayes in the circle, but the center sent it wide.

The Flyers wouldn’t be kept off the board for long, though. Less than five minutes into the game, they took advantage of an Ottawa defenseman taking a spill. The puck rimmed around the boards behind the net where Oskar Lindblom sent a no-look backhand pass into the slot for Claude Giroux, who buried it to open the scoring.

And the Flyers weren’t done there. They continued to hound the Senators in the offensive zone. It almost felt like the Flyers were on a power play for large portions of the first period, especially early on.

The top line went to work in the offensive zone with a long cycle and a few scoring chances. They were in the Ottawa zone for nearly a minute, which allowed Joel Farabee to change for Lindblom with the puck in deep.

Lindblom entered the zone and Konecny immediately found him with a cross-ice pass. He blasted a one-timer that deflected off of Thomas Chabot and past Anton Forsberg for his second point of the night.

Two goals in 3:13 gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead that was well-deserved at that point. They had held the Senators without a shot on goal –– or really any pressure at all –– up to that point.

The Flyers kept controlling play throughout the first period up until the Senators’ first shot on goal with 6:20 left in the period. Rasmus Ristolainen and Austin Watson took matching roughing minors, which opened up the ice a bit. The Senators tripled their shot total with two during 4-on-4 play and ultimately kept pushing.

The Senators finally got one through Martin Jones late in the first period, but it didn’t cross the line. Lindblom, who already had a goal and an assist in the period, saved a potential goal by clearing the puck out of the crease.

It was another dominant first period at home for the Flyers, who also had a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes against the Devils on Tuesday.

The Flyers had a clear advantage in nearly every statistical category in the first period at 5-on-5 play: 26-10 shot attempts, 14-5 shots on goal, 10-3 scoring chances (5-0 high-danger), 1.05-0.22 expected goals, and, of course, a 2-0 lead where it matters. The Senators had a 12-0 advantage in hits, however.

Second period

For as good as the first period was, the start of the second period was just as bad. The Flyers’ 2-0 lead after a dominant first period was quickly erased by Ottawa.

First, Tim Stutzle skated around Rasmus Ristolainen and beat Jones from in close with a shot that the goalie should’ve stopped.

Then, it looked like the Flyers may be able to get it right back after Drake Batherson was called for high-sticking. There was a goal scored during his penalty, but it went in the back of the Flyers’ net.

Keith Yandle lost control of the puck and Alex Formenton took advantage with a shorthanded breakaway goal.

The ice was tilted to the far end of the ice in the first period and it remained that way for most of the second period. Unfortunately for the Flyers, they were defending that end in the middle frame.

Ottawa went on its first power play of the game shortly thereafter with Justin Braun taking a hooking penalty after a turnover in the neutral zone.

The Flyers killed off the penalty but it wasn’t without some iffy moments and failed clears.

The physicality had been ramping up after the matching minors in the first period and it came to a head in the second period. The Flyers needed a jolt and Zack MacEwen provided it.

MacEwen dropped the gloves with Dillon Heatherington in a spirited bout midway through the second period.

That fight got the crowd going and the Flyers going as well. While they couldn’t break the tie, they started showing more of what they did well in the first period. They were generating pressure and chances, eventually leading to another power play.

The first line drew the penalty, so it was the second unit to start the man advantage. They looked a lot better than the first unit with a few strong chances, but they couldn’t get one past Anton Forsberg.

It was a great first period by the Flyers but a letdown in the second. Still, the Flyers were the better team on the whole through two periods with a 1.4-0.72 xGF advantage at 5-on-5 play thanks to a 14-10 advantage in scoring chances (6-1 high-danger).

Third period

The early stages of the third period were largely uneventful with both teams trading failed rushes back and forth.

The Senators probably had the best chance of the period on a two-on-one. Ristolainen initially got beat on the pass but got his stick down in time to save a goal with Ennis having a wide-open cage to shoot at.

Yandle’s struggles this game –– and season –– continued with a turnover behind the net that led to some Senators chances, but Jones was solid enough to turn them away.

The Flyers were unable to do too much in the third period with their stretch passes being just off the mark. Even when they got into the zone they were quickly headed the other way without much pressure on the forecheck.

Those failed passes came back to haunt the Flyers later in the period. After a bad pass up ice, the Senators turned it around and entered the zone with ease. They got the puck back to the point, where Artem Zub scored through traffic.

It was a deflating goal for the Flyers, who dominated the first period and were heading to another disappointing loss. However, Farabee had other ideas.

Farabee threw the puck towards the net from the corner and it somehow snuck through Forsberg to tie the game just 52 seconds after the Senators took a 3-2 lead.

That goal gave the Flyers some life, but they were still unable to string a few passes together –– or even one pass at times. There was a push in the final minute of regulation but the game headed to overtime.

Overtime

Of course, this game between two sloppy teams required more than 60 minutes; but not that much more.

Once the Flyers took control of the puck in overtime they barely gave it up. It looked like they finally had after the puck went into the corner. However, Travis Sanheim pressured Thomas Chabot in the corner and the puck slowed down around the boards. Cam Atkinson got there first and fed Sanheim for the overtime winner.

It was just the second goal of the season for Sanheim, who has picked it up recently as one of the Flyers’ best defensemen. It was also the second overtime win this season for the Flyers, who extended their point streak to five games (4-0-1).

The Flyers showed how good they can be in the first period against the Senators and then reminded everyone how bad they can be as well. The inconsistency has been a huge issue for this team and it doesn’t look like that’s going away anytime soon.

The Orange and Black are scheduled to host the Capitals on Tuesday night before travelling to Pittsburgh for Thursday night. However, with the list of players, staff, and officials in COVID protocol only growing, a league-wide pause could be in order.

Stats via Natural Stat Trick

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