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Islanders 4, Flyers 3: The Flyers lose a special teams battle in overtime to cap off the preseason

Now that that’s over, we just have to get through the actual season.

NHL: Preseason-New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers lost an overtime game to the New York Islanders in tonight’s game, the final of the preseason for Philadelphia.

It’s preseason, so you know what that means! The rules are made up and the points don’t matter; teams are still testing out their rosters; and I watched Jeopardy! in between periods instead of doing any kind of research.

But it was also the final game of this preseason, meaning that the actual make up of the roster is looking a lot more like what we can expect on opening night in nine days, especially if a few minor injuries don’t clear themselves up in that time; John Tortorella is behind the bench calling the shots as dress rehearsal for the real thing; and I fast-forwarded over the parts where each Jeopardy! contestant tells us their boring jobs or their overly-twee hobbies.

It was a back-and-forth contest for the most part, with the Flyers actually scoring three goals in a game for the first time this preseason. Of course, the Flyers scoring and still losing is quote the conundrum (a word with a musical instrument at the end that describes a hard to solve problem, for $1,000), but I have a feeling that it isn’t one that will end with the end of the preseason.

Like I said, though, until the games start counting, it’s kind of hard to tell if any of this means anything; if the Flyers are going to be contenders or just wannabes (like the Spice Girls’ 1997 hit, “Wannabe”, for $400).

First period

The Flyers were at a disadvantage very early on when Travis Sanheim took a hooking penalty on Noah Dobson right around the New York net. The Flyers killed the penalty off, though, thanks to some PK work from noted seven million-dollar man Nic Deslauriers and someone named Louie Belpedio.

Shortly after, our boy Nick Seeler was credited with the first hit of the game on JG Pageau on the kill (and Tears for Fears’ first hit came with “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” in 1985, for $600).

The Flyers had a decent number of chances over the opening half of the opening period, tallying some good-looking shots from James van Riemsdyk, Owen Tippett, and Ronnie Attard while holding the Islanders without a single even strength look at Samuel Ersson.

There was a solid five minutes or so where the teams just kind of ferried (a type of boat that, in 1904, the Supreme Court called “a continuation of the highway” for $800) the puck back and forth between the two ends without recording many official shots.

Ersson did get to face some work later in the period, with a flurry of Islander shots coming in the last four minutes to bring the shot totals close to even. The Flyers top line of Tippett, Kevin Hayes, and Noah Cates made a nice push late in the period and then the Islanders topped things off with the best chance of the period, a final six-second two-on-one with Josh Bailey and JG Pageau working on Nick Seeler and Pageau almost putting home a rebound.

The Flyers ultimately finished the period with a two-shot lead at even strength, 11-9.

Second period

The second stanza got going with a collision across the center of the ice between Hayden Hodgson and former Flyers prospect Cole Bardreau, with play stopping to allow the injured Bardreau off the ice. Things would eventually get a little rowdy, with a fight between Ronnie Attard and Ross Johnston breaking out just two minutes in.

Somehow the Flyers came away from the scruff down a man, but it didn’t matter, as Scott Laughton scooped a mishandled puck just outside his own blue line and broke away for a shorthander, placed right between the legs of Ilya Sorokin.

The Flyers saw another prime scoring chance a few minutes after killing off the second penalty of the night, with a long bank pass leading Owen Tippett into the zone ahead of the Islanders defense and sent him crashing into Sorokin. Everything but the finish, though.

The Flyers switched things up in goal near the mid-point of the game, pulling Ersson for Troy Grosenick. Ersson finished the game stopping all 15 shots he faced in the game and finished the preseason having stopped 57 of 60.

The Islanders were sent to yet another power play with under 6:00 in the period when Kevin Hayes was caught cross-checking Pageau, and they slid one past a stick-less Grosenick to tie the game up. The goal went to Josh Bailey off a big scrum in front of the net.

The Flyers found themselves with their first power play of the game when Otto Koivula’s stick found Hayden Hodgson’s face and drawing enough blood to warrant a double-minor to Koivula (though not as much blood as the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War, which took place in Maryland, for $800).

The Flyers quickly jumped out to action on their powerplay, giving up a goal to Casey Cizikas, who fought and clawed his way past Cam York and put the puck past Grosenick with barely 10 seconds run off the clock.

The Flyers finished the period almost doubled up in shots, 7-13, bringing the game totals to 18 for the Flyers and 23 for the Islanders (just one less shot than the number of stories that Chaucer wrote for The Canterbury Tales despite his initial plans to write 100, for $1,000).

Third period

The third period began with a full two minutes of Flyers power play left to be played, but some active New York sticks, some mishandled pucks, and an offsides call brought it to an end without much of note.

The many chances generated by Owen Tippett finally paid off 3:00 minutes after the end of the power play, with the winger finding the back of the net off a nice pass from Kevin Hayes on a two-on-one.

Tippett’s one-timer tied the game up, and before the period was halfway over, Tanner Laczynski broke loose on a breakaway and deked out Sorokin to give the Flyers the lead at 3-2.

The Flyers had a chance to pull away less than a minute later when Sebastian Aho’s holding infraction sent them to their third power play of the night. They did not take it, though, instead going scoreless over the two minutes and then allowing a goal from Anders Lee, a double deflection off a shot from Adam Pelech and an initial tip from Brock Nelson.

Wade Allison hooked Grant Sutton with around 6:00 minutes to go and the Islanders made the best of the man advantage, spending almost the entire time inside the Philadelphia blue line, but they did not score, sending this game barreling towards an overtime period that nobody really wanted.

Overtime

A great Anders Lee chance in front of Grosenick was snubbed out when he was hooked from behind by Noah Cates, giving the Islanders a fourth man on the ice with just over 2:00 minutes left in the game. They would finish the game off with a goal from Noah Dobson, mercifully sending those left in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center back into the remnants of the hurricane and sending me to bed.

Stray thoughts

  • That top line of Tippett, Hayes, and Cates looked pretty good, but I’m not sure that it’s a top line for an NHL team in a regular season game (or, as one of Portia’s disappointed suitors learns in The Merchant of Venice, all that glisters is not gold, for $2,000). We may just see how they stack up depending on who of Travis Konecny, Cam Atkinson, and Joel Farabee are back in the lineup by the time the real season starts up.
  • You know who else only won a single preseason game this year? The Philadelphia Eagles. Flyers best team in the NHL confirmed. But just in case they’re not, go Birds.
  • Are we looking at Samuel Ersson as the official backup once the season starts? He got the surprise start tonight over Grosenick and certainly outplayed him stats-wise tonight.

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