The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t lost often in 2021. After they dropped Wednesday night’s game 4-3 in overtime to the Boston Bruins Philadelphia has ended up in the loss column only four times with a pair of those defeats coming past regulation. Although they have done plenty of work to put themselves into the race for first in the MassMutual East Division, it feels like Philly has been lucky to scrape by in a lot of these contests that feel a little too close for comfort. It’s a well a team can only go to so many times before it costs them like it did last night.
Despite the end result, the third period technically wasn’t all bad for the Orange and Black. They turned a tied contest into a 3-1 advantage with only 11:19 remaining in regulation thanks to Jakub Voracek sneaking behind the net far post for a Travis Sanheim dime for an uncontested shot before Joel Farabee cranked home another one-timer. The Flyers held the two-goal lead for a little over three minutes before Nicolas Aube-Kube took a closing hand on the puck minor. Even though he rattled off five noteworthy hits as an appreciated physical presence for Philly on Wednesday night this was a penalty the team didn’t need.
The Bruins needed almost no time at all to slice the lead to one, as David Pastrnak potted his second of the night only 10 ticks into the man advantage. As David Krejci held the puck at the point Ivan Provorov slightly lost his balance for a second opening up the passing lane down low to Nick Ritchie, who was operating at the side of the net. While Provorov rushed back to recover Phil Myers moved towards Ritchie and dropped in an attempt to close off any backdoor play, which allowed Ritchie to move the puck to Patrice Bergeron in front. Scott Laughton recognized the development and attempted to force Boston’s new captain into an uncomfortable shot, but his pursuit to Bergeron opened up a one-timer for Pastrnak into an empty cage.
Even though Provorov’s stumble helped to create the chain of events above it was Myers’ decision to come over to the left side of the ice that put him on the wrong side of the puck. If Myers had stayed on the right side of the crease Ritchie may have been allowed more time, but he would have been in the passing lane to either Bergeron or Pastrnak. Instead he moves right to left and watches Ritchie put him on the wrong side of the disc with a dish to Bergeron leaving Laughton flying onto the scene to distract Bergeron from a shot and break up a possible pass to Pastrnak. Matt Niskanen’s retirement created a lot of questions on the blue line and that includes the defensive units on the penalty kill. Myers has already played 17:26 of shorthanded action this year, which is more than he had for all of 21 games in 2018-19 or 50 games in 2019-20. Jumping from 43 seconds on the penalty kill per game last year to 2:29 this year, Myers might have some bumps on the road to becoming a reliable PK’er.
The Flyers could have stopped the bleeding there, but another avoidable penalty put the hosts down a man again with little time left in regulation. With 2:01 on the clock, Brad Marchand picked up a loose puck in the right corner of Boston’s zone and made a move to his right which made Kevin Hayes throw his arm and stick into the 2006 third-rounder’s mid-section.
With a lead on the board and only 2:01 remaining this is a penalty you can’t take against a division contender in a shortened season. Marchand’s squirminess definitely played a role in the infraction being called, but the optics of taking an offensive zone penalty to put the result of the game into the question aren’t wonderful.
With Hayes in the sin bin and Tuukka Rask to the bench for an extra attacker, Pastrnak put home his second of the night on a 6-on-4 with 14.9 ticks left on the clock following a hell of a string of bounces. Boston finally broke into the Flyers’ zone with speed thanks to McAvoy and Marchand.
This play led to Krejci receiving the puck back at the point before he released a slap shot that initiated a four-shot sequence in the span of seconds that saw three blocks and a wide open net.
Krejci’s shot was blocked by Oskar Lindblom before Bergeron picked up the puck only to have his attempt denied by Provorov, which resulted in Marchand firing one that Myers managed to block with his backhand. Unfortunately for the defenseman, the puck popped up behind his back and onto the tape of Pastrnak’s stick for the game-tying marker.
Pastrnak’s second of the evening stung, but the Orange and Black could have still survived until overtime and regathered for the 3-on-3. However, Laughton decided to take an inexplicable interference minor on Sean Kuraly while the fourth-line forward was on his way to a loose puck.
Luckily the ensuing defensive zone faceoff draw didn’t cost the Flyers and they were able to grab a point before Bergeron grabbed the second for the Bruins a little over half a minute into overtime. As the Bruins worked the puck in the offensive zone during their 4-on-3 man advantage Pastrnak moved the puck from the middle of the left circle to Krejci at the point. Justin Braun, who was on Pastrnak during the pass, decided to drop back into a possible shooting lane for Krejci.
The Czech forward wound up for a slapper both Hayes and Braun respected, which stopped both Flyers’ skaters where they stood before Krejci moved it to Pastrnak. The 48-goal scorer from last year slap-passed one through Braun to Bergeron at the side of the net, who bumped the pass before putting home his own rebound for a greasy game-winner.
It’s only the team’s fourth loss in 11 games, but this is the type of loss that highlights why a lot of fans aren’t exactly thrilled with the roster’s process and execution early on. It’s the second time they have blown a third-period lead against the Bruins with this one coming after the club didn’t test Rask until 9:27 into the contest in a first period that’s resembled a few other listless frames in 2021 that have most fans puzzled as to the 180 the club has turned since 2019-20. The team has pieced together strong shifts or periods this season but they still haven’t come out swinging and shut things down for a comforting 60-minute performance. With that said seven victories in 11 tries is the most important fact (especially with Sean Couturier still out of the lineup), but the winning might not continue if the club decides to start playing undisciplined, sloppy hockey on top of wasting fortuitous multi-goal leads.
*Stats and video courtesy of NHL.com