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Hurricanes 4, Flyers 3 (OT): So close and yet so far

The Flyers played with pride but couldn’t secure the win.

Gerry Mayhew falls down to the ice playing against Andrei Svechnikov Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

It was Pride Night at the Wells Fargo Center, though the Flyers would have been better off calling it Pride Afternoon. Yes, this game had to be rescheduled from its previous date. Yes, it’s President’s Day, so there are some people who get today off work. However, starting a game at 3:00 p.m. ET on a Monday was still a bizarre time if you ask me. This is especially so considering I said only some people get today off work. Not everyone was so lucky.

Thankfully, I’ve got your recap in case you were stuck in the drudges of work this afternoon — or had any other reason to miss the game or need a reason to relive it. Spoiler alert: the Flyers lost. However, they actually put up a fight against the Carolina Hurricanes that was admirable considering the sheer disparity in performances between these two teams this season.

First Period

The Flyers began the period with some major jump in their step and generated some good chances very early on with shots on goal from players such as Travis Konecny and Morgan Frost. Isaac Ratcliffe was ready to prove that he deserves this extended look in the NHL as he had some of the best scoring chances of the period. The crossbar was an enemy instead of a friend during the first chance, and the other chance was an impressive through-the-legs shot that Frederik Andersen unfortunately stopped.

The Flyers weren’t just dominant in producing offense, but they were playing good defensively as well. It wasn’t until there was 9:17 remaining in the period that the Hurricanes finally registered a shot on goal, while the Flyers already boasted seven.

At exactly 13 minutes in, Andrei Svechnikov decided it was a good idea to cross check Claude Giroux for some reason, so he had to go sit in the box for two minutes and think about what he did. Though, when the Hurricanes came into this game with the top ranked penalty kill in the league at 89.6 percent, while the Flyers’ power play is the 30th ranked in the league at 14.7 percent, was anyone here shocked it didn’t result in a Philadelphia goal? Still, don’t cross check the captain, thanks.

Even though a lackluster power play could have killed some of the Flyers’ momentum, it didn’t. They continued to dominate the play, and Carolina was kept to only two shots on goal throughout the first period. Yes, you read that right. I’m just as shocked as you are.

It would have been nice to see the Flyers put up a goal this period for all their abundance of chances, but against the top team in the Metropolitan Division, being scoreless after one period was pretty good. Take the positives where you can find them with this team.

Second Period

24 seconds in, and the Hurricanes scored courtesy of Nino Niederreiter. It was flukey as could be, too, bouncing off the boards and over Travis Sanheim’s stick. The Flyers certainly didn’t do their homework about what the Hurricanes are capable of doing early in periods, considering they scored 9 seconds into a period twice over the Penguins just yesterday.

It could have been all too easy to let this deflate the Flyers. They played so well throughout the first, and that is how they were rewarded to start the second? With how things have gone for this Flyers team, it wouldn’t have surprised this blogger to see this spark a chain of unfortunate events.

Instead, Gerry Mayhew scored only 35 seconds later for this sixth goal of the season. Justin Braun had the slap shot from near the blue line, then Mayhew collected the rebound and shot it off Sebastian Aho’s skate into the goal.

Then the Flyers went on the power play again at 1:07 while Martin Nečas was called for interference. Once again, the Flyers didn’t do much of anything at all on the power play. If you were expecting them to, I honestly want to know how you were able to dig deep into your heart and still find hope for these power play units to do something.

After that power play, the Hurricanes started to generate more momentum for themselves throughout this period, and it was rewarded with another goal at 12:13 by Teuvo Teräväinen.

There honestly could have been better coverage on Teräväinen as he was allowed to just skate himself right to the front of the net for a prime spot to score. Yet, this goal was also a little flukey as the puck bounced off Nick Seeler as well.

The Flyers were on the penalty kill for the first time at 13:58 in the period as Seeler was called for hooking. Somehow during the penalty kill, Scott Laughton, Patrick Brown, and Travis Sanheim all went on a 3-on-2 shorthanded breakaway attempt, but it did not pan out. Of course it didn’t, but to have had that attempt at all was shocking.

At 16:50, Jesper Fast and Rasmus Ristolainen started getting testy with each other while Frost and Niederreiter were struggling to free the puck from the boards, and both wound up in the box for roughing calls. The resulting 4-on-4 didn’t result in a score for either team, and the rest of the period played out with similar uneventfulness.

The momentum from the first period didn’t exactly disappear on the Flyers during the second, but it wasn’t properly carried through, and so team found themselves losing 2-1 after 40 minutes of play.

Third period

Patrick Brown tied up the game at 5:19 on a rebound attempt. Ratcliffe initially tried for a wraparound goal, but as that was stopped, Brown was able to immediately capitalize and send it to the back of the net. Teamwork makes the dream work.

However, the high from that goal quickly faded as Vincent Trocheck scored at 7:15. The Hurricanes quickly turned into a thorn in the Flyers’ side this game.

Unfortunately, the Trocheck goal breathed new life into the Hurricanes. The Flyers finally seemed to meet the one obstacle that would deflate them. They were skating on their heels until Necas took his second interference penalty of the game at 10:30 and awarded the Flyers another power play.

Even then, it would be a bit of a stretch to say that the power play gave the Flyers more momentum. It only gave them more possession by nature of what a power play does, but it didn’t have too many good looks. Afterwards, Nečas came flying out of the box and helped the Hurricanes nearly score, but Keith Yandle made sure that didn’t happen, thankfully.

At 13:35 in the period, Zack MacEwen and Ian Cole got into a fighting bout. MacEwen seemed to be the winner, for Cole was all bloodied up after this. Apparently today was Cole’s birthday, so what a thoughtful present.

After multiple messy attempts at trying to get the puck in the net, the Flyers scored a scrappy goal that would ultimately be credited to Oskar Lindblom. The Flyers had definitely managed to start playing better again after the fight, and so for them to get a goal by any means possible was a huge sigh of relief.

Both teams continued to battle hard throughout the rest of the period, but no one could capitalize. With a 3-3 score, bonus hockey was needed.

Overtime

The start of overtime began a little slowly, but it also began primarily with chances for Carolina. Svechnikov and Aho both felt dangerous out there whenever the puck was on their stick, but Jones seemed to stand tall for the first few minutes.

The Flyers eventually got their wheels under them and started to generate some good chances of their own, but shots from Cam Atkinson and Mayhew just didn’t go in.

Yet, in an outcome that shouldn’t have felt too surprising considering both the back-and-forth nature of this game and their early overtime dominance, the Hurricanes scored with only 18 seconds left thanks to Brett Pesce.

Final thoughts

This wasn’t a bad game for the Flyers. It wasn’t. This was one of those games where the team clearly had enough fight and juice in their play. They could have just as easily been the ones to score in overtime. There was no questioning their effort here against, I repeat, the top team in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers made the Hurricanes fight for this win, and that’s not an easy feat!

The power play was still abysmal. There’s no sugar coating that. It’s been abysmal for a long time, and it’s hard to make it better when so many top-performing Flyers that should be making up the power play units are injured.

Another positive in my eyes is to continue to see depth players flourishing. Mayhew’s storyline this season going from relative nobody to a bit of a breakout scorer as of late has been exciting. Ratcliffe had probably his best game as a Flyer here and seems set out to prove everyone who gave up on him as a prospect due to his lackluster AHL play wrong. Brown chipping in with a goal in his return to play was a great sight as well.

However, it was still against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Flyers were always going to be outmatched, even with Carolina playing the second half of a back-to-back. For as well as they played, the Flyers never once held the lead. They were always chasing down the Hurricanes to tie things up. The flow of the game score did a great job in summarizing exactly what the Flyers’ challenges have been all season. Even when they’re doing their best, they always seem at least one step behind the opponent.

There won’t be much time to dwell on this loss as the Flyers turn around and play the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night, February 22, at 7:00 p.m. ET.