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Islanders 2, Flyers 1: Close, but no cigar

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That was an enjoyable game of hockey from the Flyers. Shame they couldn’t turn it into a win.

NHL: New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

After suffering a beating at the hands of the Islanders on Saturday, the Flyers looked to rebound in the first game of a back-to-back. Who did what, what were the takeaways, and who are we listening to tonight? All that below.

First Period

The first period was actually a pretty dominant showing from the Flyers, who racked up eight shots on goal before allowing any from the Islanders. Despite that, New York got one of the more dangerous chances of the game early when Brian Elliott overcommitted to a shot that went off the boards. A swift pokecheck from Ivan Provorov saved a potential goal on the play, giving the team some room to breathe.

Nolan Patrick showed out in the first, racking up a pair of partial breakaways and generally doing a good job of reading traffic in the neutral zone. The Flyers peppered Ilya Sorokin, generally held good defensive discipline with coverages and even rendered an Islanders power play ineffective by forcing all of the shooting options to the perimeter.

In general, this was one of the better periods from the Flyers’ skaters in a hot minute. While the defense did have a few sketchy turnovers and the forwards still forced cross-crease plays when they weren’t there, the process was sound and it was a solid period of hockey. Wild words to say coming into this game, but here we are.

Second Period

After a Matt Martin holding penalty, the Flyers had trouble moving the puck low in the zone and even failed to create controlled entries with speed on a few occasions. Oliver Wahlstrom decided to put the fear of God into Philly by ringing a shot off the pipe, a play that visibly put a jolt into the Orange & Black. After Justin Braun hit the crossbar and the Flyers muffed a 3-on-1 play, Nolan Patrick and Michael Raffl continued to bring some jam in the bottom of the lineup.

A nifty Claude Giroux pass to the front of the net set up an Oskar Lindblom deflection for his fifth goal of the year, and just like that the Flyers were out in front.

Barry Trotz was displeased that the goal wasn’t waved off due to a kicking motion, but he didn’t challenge it so it ultimately didn’t matter. A bad line change gave New York a shot to knot things up, but Brock Nelson’s attempt skittered wide. The Flyers exited the period having played a solid 40 minutes of hockey with a chance to earn some much-needed points.

Third Period

The start of the third period was considerably less auspicious for the Flyers. After some sustained pressure on consecutive shifts by the lower end of the lineup, Oliver Wahlstrom redeemed his near miss from earlier in the game with a rebound goal to tie the game up.

The Flyers managed to hang on after giving up the goal, adding some solid pressure off the rush. Kevin Hayes managed to turn a few odd-man chances into nothing by looking pass the entire way, but in general the response was quality from Philadelphia. Good chances from Konecny and Eberle exchanged in a flurry livened up what had otherwise been a reasonably slow game.

After some more pressure from Nolan Patrick and Kevin Hayes, the Flyers received a power play opportunity late thanks to a Nick Leddy hook. Ilya Sorokin made an unbelievable save to shut down a strange fluttering shot by Giroux, but Philly inevitably hurt their already iffy performance with the man advantage by missing the dreading slingshot passes and turning the puck over when pressured. Through three periods, the score remained tied 1-1.

Overtime

After winding down what little time was left on the powerplay, the Flyers rapaciously attacked Ilya Sorokin and even got caught cheating a bit for offense at times. Kevin Hayes and Travis Sanheim had a pair of excellent looks, but a weak exchange between Joel Farabee and Shayne Gostisbehere ultimately led to the wraparound winner by Anthony Beauvillier.

Three Big Things

  1. This was the best Nolan Patrick game I’ve seen in a long time. The young center didn’t manage to get on the scoresheet, but he was noticeable in a positive way throughout the game, particularly when the Flyers were establishing momentum in the first period. Hopefully this signals more good things to come from the infuriatingly inconsistent 22-year-old.
  2. The Flyers played more than well enough to win tonight. Ilya Sorokin was spectacular in net for the Islanders, masking a stellar performance by Philly coming off a demoralizing week. If the team continues to play like this, it won’t be long before they start making up some ground in the East.
  3. Philadelphia has to convert process into wins sometime soon. There were numerous moments where players failed to execute on singular plays that ultimately made the difference between two points and one. The power play needs to be revamped, but the execution that players keep bringing up in postgame pressers needs to emerge before the Flyers can be taken seriously again as a threat in their division.

Postgame Tunes

I’m in the mood for some early Pixies. Don’t know why.

Good night and good hockey folks, and as always, go Flyers.