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Flyers 3, Kraken 2: It’s a December 29 miracle to start the West Coast trip

Flyers avoid a shootout thanks to a Provy OT goal

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Seattle Kraken Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Can we assume that the Philadelphia Flyers—having traveled across the country just this morning to play a 10 p.m. game following a stressful, 10-day omicron break that, I’m sure for them, was full of quarantining and testing—are somewhat tired and beaten up? I myself haven’t left my couch since Christmas and I’m exhausted, so yes, they probably are. But that doesn’t mean that it was fun to watch them move listlessly around the ice for 50+ minutes.

They would reward those of us who stuck with it, though, tying the game with around four minutes left and finishing things off in overtime, sparing us the agony of another shootout loss. That the Flyers came away from this game with a single point feels like a tiny little Christmas miracle; that they actually won and will be awarded two points is pretty surprising. If you think they looked tired tonight, just wait until they play again in a different state less than 24 hours from now. It’s a 10:30 puck drop tomorrow against the San Jose Sharks, as the Flyers have miraculously kicked off their Disney on Ice swing through the West Coast with two points.

First period

The night began with franchise milestones for Claude Giroux, whose slot pass to on the power play was one-timed past Phillipp Grubauer by James van Riemsdyk, giving him 600 career assists and giving him sole possession of second place on the Flyers all-time points list.

The Flyers would fall relatively flat for the rest of the period though, allowing 11 even strength shots on goal, including Yanni Gourde’s first power play goal of the season with 7 minutes remaining. The Kraken recorded 6 scoring chances and 4 high danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick, compared to the Flyers’ single (non-high danger) scoring chance. There were extended periods of 5-on-5 play where I found myself counting the players on the ice to double-check that I hadn’t missed a Flyers penalty.

The period finished tied at a goal apiece thanks to 12 saves from Martin Jones, a theme so recurring this season that it’s starting to become a cliche.

Second period

The Flyers came out in the second without much of a difference in play, only exacerbated by an actual Kraken power play, the result of a Justin Braun hooking penalty. At the games’ halfway mark, the Flyers had only recorded six shots against the worst goalie in the league this year; only four at even strength. The period’s latter 10 minutes weren’t much of an improvement, as we saw some questionable line changes, a power play that was seemingly split between all three zones, and only four more Flyers’ shots on Grubauer.

The period, mercifully, ended without a goal for either team, with each of Martin Jones’ 11 second-period saves keeping the Flyers even on the scoreboard with the Pacific Division’s last place team.

Third period

We didn’t even get a minute to see if the Flyers could come out awoken in the third period before Travis Konecny went to the box for taking down Jaden Schwartz entering the zone. The Kraken power play looked less crisp than their previous efforts, but they kept the pressure up following its conclusion. A Jeremy Lauzon point shot would find its way behind Martin Jones and into the net before a Mike Yeo challenge succeeded in overturning it due to some goaltender contact from Schwartz.

Lauzon would then turn around and take a roughing penalty that gave the Flyers their third power play opportunity of the game—just two more minutes without a shot on goal. Lauzon would then turn around around and put a wrister past Jones off a Flyers turnover, to give the Kraken a lead for the first time in the game.

Said lead would only last for 13 seconds though, before James van Riemsdyk would score his second of the game on a quick passing play off a dump in.

The second van Riemsdyk goal would ultimately be the one to send the game into overtime. The two biggest boys on the ice (Jamie Oleksiak and Rasmus Ristolainen) nearly came to blows behind the Seattle net with under two minutes left, but nothing would come of it.

The Flyers finished the period with a statistical profile befitting an NHL team actually showing up: 10 shots on goal, 9 shots allowed; 8 scoring chances, 3 allowed; and a positive xGF% with 64.64%.

Overtime

Kevin Hayes would make a great pass to spring Ivan Provorov on the second shift of the overtime and Provy made a nice deke and finished on his backhand past Grubauer.

Stray observations:

  • Despite not recording a shot for the second period’s first 12 minutes, and despite the second period being a very statistical weak point for this Flyers’ team, their second period’s expected goals for percentage (22.93%) tonight actually improved upon their first period’s (15.02%).
  • Martin Jones wasn’t forced to make a ton of difficult-looking saves (what do I know, they’re all probably pretty difficult), but he looked solid in net all night. Jones made 34 saves on 36 shots and neither goal felt especially egregious.
  • There wasn’t much made of it from the broadcast team, but it feels important to remember that the Flyers were short their top center in Sean Couturier. Yes, every other team in the league is dealing with roster issues right now, including the Kraken, but when you don’t have your best skater or your best goalie, a little shakiness is understood—or, if not, at least expected.
  • I have no information to back this up, but it felt like Dave Hakstol never won a single challenge in his time as the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, and that held true tonight. I know he didn’t technically challenge the play, but he was still on the losing side of a challenge, so it counts. I think.

Stray stats:

  • Giroux’s 884 points for the Flyers are the 58th most by any player for one franchise and 8th most amongst active players.
  • There are 17 franchises that have a higher second-place scorer than the Flyers, and 11 whose lead scorer had more points than Bobby Clarke’s 1210.
  • 6% of the Flyers’ shots on goal were provided by hockey player Gerry Mayhew, who may, as the mayor of Whoville, have to return to whence he came once the holidays come to an end.
  • Ivan Provorov played a full four minutes more than any other Flyer tonight, totaling 26:46 at all strengths. He continued his rough season, making some poor decisions and some noticeable turnovers tonight, and the Flyers lost the shot attempts 11-20 in that ice time, but he did pot the game-winner, so it feels like a net positive for him somehow.