Powered by two goals each from Owen Tippett and Travis Konecny, and a couple other solid performances, the Flyers got a well-deserved 5-3 win over the Blue Jackets before they hit the road for some pre-holiday matchups.
As you would expect from a game between two teams near the bottom of the league standings, there was not a whole lot going on in the first minutes of this game. The Flyers and Blue Jackets started to feel each other out but as play began to unravel, the home team was gifted some space in the offensive zone.
Owen Tippett chipped in a rush chance, Travis Konecny began to forecheck hard and try to force the puck past Daniil Tarasov, and they started to feel in control. That appeared to all fall apart when Johnny Gaudreau (of course) slid easily past some Flyers defenders and got a shot off, but also managed to draw a penalty in his effort.
At first, it would have been so easy to predict that the Flyers would suddenly allow a goal while shorthanded and the game would fall apart from there — but that was not the case. Would you be shocked if I told you the Flyers managed to score a shorthanded goal? Because I sure was.
TK ON THE PK— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 21, 2022
Flyers take a 1-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/ZPBlorobXG
With an incredible awareness and ability to take the backchecking Columbus defender out of the situation, Konecny scored his first ever shorthanded goal and his 13th of the season. Even if the penalties aren’t going the Flyers’ way, they deserved the lead with the effort they put in during the first period.
The lead after 20 minutes might have been only caused because of some special teams play, but the Flyers controlled the vast majority of that period and almost toyed with the Blue Jackets somewhat. A dominant a period you could ask of this roster, honestly. And the line of James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Frost, and Tippett led the way by allowing just one single shot against but forcing Tarasov to make five saves in the three minutes and 27 seconds they were on the ice in the first. It feels good to think about good things happening in a game for once.
Through the start of the second period, the Flyers continued to get their scoring chances. A refreshing deep breath — like visiting a mountain range for the first time and filling your lungs with that clean air. The Flyers were actually outplaying a team and looked like they could pull this off.
Of course that would come to an end as the Blue Jackets slowly started to pull on the loose thread that was holding the quasi defensive structure the Flyers put together. Philadelphia still managed to get the quantity of shots under control, but with a Hakstol-esque focus on shooting wild shots from the blue line and not even approaching the front of the net.
Apparently they would not approach the front of their own net either, as the Blue Jackets scored the equalizing goal on a beautiful tip from Kirill Marchenko.
Just minutes later, Rasmus Ristolainen decided to flail around on the ice as the Blue Jackets began to surge up the ice and that caused an odd-man rush that Kent Johnson quickly capitalized on. A top-five pick getting his opportunity and looking good? Sounds crazy.
But as we all know in this silly little sport, no lead is safe and especially when a not-so-good team is up by a measly single goal.
Less than 90 seconds after Johnson gave Columbus the lead, Morgan Frost continued to ride his hot streak and rifled his sixth goal of the season past Tarasov.
Frost warning— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 21, 2022
Flyers have tied things up 2-2! pic.twitter.com/cDQuMsNLbN
Give it to the Blue Jackets for providing that stagnant and immobile defense that Frost produced off of in junior hockey to show us that the Flyers centerman can still shoot from mid-range accurately.
With Frost getting a goal, one of his linemates decided to get in on the action before the middle frame ended. With the Flyers’ first power play opportunity coming to a close, Tippett pulled off an insane goal to weave around the defense and slide one past the goal line.
As of late, Tippett’s skill is starting to shine through in moments like this. His elusive play along the boards is something that comes to natural to the sport’s best. He keeps possession all while laying it off to Joel Farabee, and then being able to follow up on the play that he started and score his ninth of the season.
After 40 minutes, the Flyers held the 3-2 lead and a tidy 26-20 lead in shots on goal. They were controlling the game and the right players were producing.
And speaking of the right players, Travis Konecny opened the third period by extending the Flyers lead to two goals.
GOAL NUMBER 2⃣ OF THE NIGHT FOR KONECNY pic.twitter.com/nFCFISTTar— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) December 21, 2022
Like, my dude. Konecny made Vladislav Gavrikov — a defenseman that almost every fan base is pining for their team to acquire before the trade deadline — look like an utter fool. The speed? The drive? The backhand? I’m fanning myself thinking about this goal.
As the game progressed, the Flyers kept on distancing themselves further from their opponent, unloading dozens and dozens of shots in Tarasov’s direction while keeping the Blue Jackets’ effort to a minimum.
Unfortunately, that levee eventually had to break because they were playing with some cosmic forces purely by the fact that they were able to look good. Of course, Columbus had to make it interesting and have someone playing their very first minute of NHL hockey score a pretty cool goal.
Wait, I’m sorry? Andrew Peeke is a real dude and has played 146 games in the league before this? Sounds extremely fake. You cannot tell anyone with a straight face that there is a hockey player named Andrew Peeke. Andrew Peeke. Andrew Peeke. I’m going to be repeating that name in my head now.
After this goal, the Flyers managed to return to what this team has been all season long. Allowing some more shots and clear scoring chances in front of Hart and laying the foundation for the Blue Jackets to eventually get back into this game and even the score. What a team to just perfectly give us a quick panic.
But thank goodness for Owen Tippett, who scored the empty-net goal and put this game to sleep and the Flyers earned a tidy 5-3 win.
Next, they’re travelling north to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday afternoon. Well, so long positive feelings about this team.
One line was incredible
I am completely ready to fall in love with the line of Owen Tippett, James van Riemsdyk, and Morgan Frost. They looked good in previous games, but tonight it was a game-changing level of dominance that they had over the Blue Jackets. A mix of speed, skill, elusiveness, and some strength on the puck sprinkled in, this is a line that can lead the Flyers offense while not even having the team’s Big Stars like Joel Farabee or Travis Konecny, on it.
During the 12 minutes and 21 seconds this line was on the ice tonight, the Flyers had 24(!) shot attempts and allowed just six. Six! That is some insane two-way play that we have not seen a whole lot from this team.
The Flyers earned a win without Carter Hart stealing it for them
Speaking of things we have not seen yet this season, the Flyers earned a very nice win with Carter Hart being just an average goaltender. He saved 30 of the 33 shots he faced and did not need to come up big in any key moments. Just a standard outing from a good netminder.
But because of the Flyers sudden offense against one of the few teams that sit below them in the standings, Hart could relax a little bit and not need to look like the Hart Trophy was actually named after him.