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Wild 5, Flyers 4: A back-and-forth roller coaster ends in defeat

So many turnovers, the Flyers should open a bakery.

Frederick Gaudreau celebrates his goal alongside Kevin Fiala and Dmitry Kulikov as goaltender Carter Hart has his back turned in the foreground, looking forlorn Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Period 1

The Flyers decided to come out roaring to a good start. They had a couple good looks throughout the first few minutes, and the effort paid off quickly. Scott Laughton intercepted a failed drop pass from Marcus Foligno, and he took off down the ice on a breakaway. He could’ve passed to either Oskar Lindblom or Travis Konecny, who had joined him down the rush, but instead he was able to backhand it straight past Cam Talbot.

Remember when he played four games for the Flyers during the 2018-19 season? I’m still not sure what the point of trading for him was other than to break the record for most goalies used in a season, because they really didn’t use him for much.

Speaking of players the Flyers traded for in that season that then left that summer, Ryan Hartman scored.

Is it still considered a revenge goal if the trade was almost three years ago? I say yes. This was Hartman’s 20th goal of the season, and it marked the first time he’s hit that mark in his career. When he was traded to the Stars (who then bounced him to the Wild) in the summer of 2019, I don’t think anyone expected Hartman to have a breakout season like this just a few more years down the road.

The Flyers didn’t let this deflate them, and their fourth line lead the charge to score a minute and 26 seconds later. Yes, the fourth line. Patrick Brown scored the goal, but the efforts of Zack MacEwen and Max Willman were also notable on this shift.

The Flyers got a power play at 16:07 as Calen Addison was called for interference. The highlight of the entire thing was a patented Claude Giroux slap shot with eight seconds left, but Talbot deftly saved it. As ever, the power play just struggled to generate any momentum.

The Flyers actually showed much more offensive pressure after the power play ended, with good looks from Cam Atkinson and Gerry Mayhew, but then Derick Brassard decided to shoot the puck down ice and right into the hands of Frederick Gaudreau — literally. After batting the puck down with his hand, Gaudreau then scored with three seconds left to go in the period.

Ending a period tied usually isn’t the worst thing in the world, but for the Flyers to have blown their lead in the dying seconds of it made it feel a lot worse heading into the first intermission.

Period 2

It only took five minutes and seven seconds for the Flyers to regain the lead they’d lost, and it was courtesy of a Travis Konecny goal — his first since February 1 against the Jets.

Laughton’s pass on this goal was right on the money, and Konecny showed some impressive agility in spinning around to evade Talbot.

The lead turned out to be short lived after Hartman scored his second goal of the game in the midst of a net front scramble. Kevin Fiala shot the puck down the slot, Ivan Provorov tried to defend the play, but the puck turned out to elude him and Hartman got a successful whack at it.

After this goal, most of the play was dominated by the Minnesota Wild. Ultimately the Wild would outshoot the Flyers 12-6 during the second period. It wasn’t exactly a good look for the Flyers, considering the game was tied again and they were in danger of letting the Wild lead for the first time all night.

The Wild then decided to blow that momentum as they didn’t know how to count anymore. They got a too many men on the ice penalty with 1:40 left to play in the period. The Flyers then reminded us that even the worst power play units in the league have to score sometimes. As much as I was morbidly curious to see if the team could really go for the entire rest of the season without scoring another power play goal, it was nice to see the Flyers pull it off.

Once again, Giroux from his spot at the left faceoff dot got the play going, and it was James van Riemsdyk in his own net front office to tip it in and guarantee the goal. It had all those wonderful familiar details we’re used to seeing from these players when the team can actually fire on all cylinders.

With that goal, the Flyers were able to take a 4-3 lead into the second intermission.

Period 3

The early part of this period was a special teams battle. First, Konecny was given a delay of game penalty for sending the puck over the glass only 1:57 into the game. The Flyers were able to kill off that penalty kill, and then at 4:23 got another power play chance of their own as Foligno was called for crosschecking.

There was a bit of a different vibe to watching this power play, if I’m being honest. Atkinson had a wide open net at one point, and for once, I actually felt a little bit of hope in the power play! Unfortunately, he missed. The Flyers’ power play was back to not scoring, but even then, it no longer felt as doom and gloom. Getting a power play goal in the previous period really did a lot for the viewing mood. If they could do it once, there’s a chance they could always do it again.

The save of the game came with 11:16 left in the period as Fiala took a point blank shot from near the right faceoff dot and Carter Hart deftly batted it away with his glove hand.

Oh, it was then later announced by the Flyers that Justin Braun wasn’t going to return to the game due to the flu. Yes, the flu. Last I checked, we are still in the middle of a pandemic, so maybe playing sick at all in the first place was a bad move. But what do I know, I’m a humble blogger, not a doctor.

Without Braun’s strong defensive presence, the Flyers were likely in danger, and it came to pass when Matt Boldy scored. Provorov decided to pretty much repeat the same blunder Brassard did and shoot the puck right to Fiala, who was able to get the puck to Boldy for the goal.

Only 25 seconds later, Jonas Brodin sent a slapper from the dot and it beat Hart cleanly. The Flyers were suddenly staring down their first losing score of the game.

The Flyers pulled Hart for the extra attacker with 2:41 left in the period. It was an aggressive pull, and the Flyers were honestly lucky that a couple Wild shots didn’t turn into empty net goals. The Flyers gave it their all throughout the 6-on-5 play, but nothing would go through. The Wild would hold onto their lead and win the game 5-4.

Final thoughts

The Flyers did some surprising things throughout this game, and by surprising, I actually mean it in a good way. Yes, they lost, but the team managed to do things like get the first goal, have the fourth line contribute to the scoring, and even score on the power play. Those are all positive things for this team!

However, to have the lead four separate times in this game and either tie it or completely blow it each time is not good. Two of the five goals against were the direct result of ugly, careless turnovers in the Flyers’ own zone. When defending a lead, that’s just not good!

The Wild also dominated the shots on goal 38-30, and while leading in shots doesn’t always reflect on the scoresheet, it’s a quick, surface level indicator of who’s getting more looks and scoring chances. The Flyers had some fight in them this game, but it wasn’t consistent enough. As much as it sucks to watch, the team probably deserved this loss.

Oh well, it’s onto the next game as the Flyers play the Chicago Blackhawks at 3:00 p.m. ET.