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Flyers 4, Blackhawks 3: Hey, you can’t lose ‘em all

Flyers reach their monthly win quota early this time

Chicago Blackhawks v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Flyers won a very contentious game over fellow major market disappointment, the Chicago Blackhawks. The game started out slow, with just a single goal and single penalty in the first period, but both the offense and the chippiness picked up exponentially as the game wore on, before the Flyers walked away with a 4-3 win.

When you are chasing a team in the standings, it’s important that you win head-to-head matchups with that team, that way, you get points and you also prevent them from getting points. Important games between division rivals towards the end of the season can often feel like four-point games for this reason. The same thing applies when the thing you’re chasing is the best lottery odds. It’s important to lose to the other bottom-feeders in order to avoid getting points and hand them some. Coming into today, Chicago’s .436 points percentage put them at 25th in the league, ahead of the Flyers’ .389, which put them at 29th.

So, the Flyers gained some ground on the 28 teams ahead of them today and prevented Chicago from doing the same. It’s Philly’s first win in the month of March and second in their last ten.

First period

After spending a good amount of the first five-ish minutes on offense, the Flyers struck first on a nice shift from Oskar Lindblom, who retrieved a loose puck below the red line, moved it out to the point and tipped the eventual shot from Travis Sanheim past Chicago goaltender Kevin Lankinen.

A Connor Murphy interference penalty kept the tilt of the ice in the Flyers’ favor for the rest of the first half of the period. They did not score, but held an 8-2 lead in shots at the 10-minute mark. Lindblom’s marker would hold through the first intermission despite prime scoring chances on a one-timer by Dylan Strome and a face-off play for Riley Stillman. The Flyers took the 1-0 lead and a slim 18-16 lead in 5-on-5 shot attempts.

Second period

Chicago found the game-tying goal less than a minute into the second, with the NHL’s 6th best goal-scorer this season, Alex DeBrincat, wristing the puck past Martin Jones off a Jonathon Toews face-off win over Claude Giroux.

The Flyers then went up a man again on a call against Chicago for too many men on the ice (seven instead of six). Mike Yeo took this opportunity to get a little experimental and stuck Rasmus Ristolainen right in front of the net as a part of the second unit to begin the power play. In my opinion, that’s kind of over-thinking things and getting a little too cute, but honestly who cares? If I was interim coaching a team destined to be stripped for parts at a moment’s notice, I’d probably be getting pretty cute, too. The Flyers did not score, although Risto did have a few whacks at the puck in front of the net.

By the time the game was halfway over, there was no gap in shot differential, with each team registering 17 on net. Chicago took all that momentum and found the back of the net just past that midway mark on a Patrick Kane-to-Dylan Strome rush.

The Flyers answered within three minutes on a nice passing play between Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson that resulted in Atkinson’s 19th of the season and a wrestling match between Toews, Calvin de Haan, Derick Brassard, and Rasmus Ristolainen. Toews, de Haan, and Brassard all ended up in the box, putting the Flyers up a man advantage for the third time on the day.

Chicago killed off the penalty and took the lead right back, with Strome stripping Max Willman of the puck just inches from the Flyers’ blue line and capitalizing on the turnover with an unassisted goal.

The Flyers lost the 5-on-5 shot battle in the period, 12-4, but added 3 at 5-on-4 for an all strengths 12-7 deficit.

Third period

With Derick Brassard back in the lineup, Yeo reunited one of the season-opening lines with Farabee and Atkinson on Brassard’s wings, and that line scored again to start the third period. A Brassard shot off the rush squeaked past Lankinen, with assists credited to each of his wingers.

The line would then get their third goal of the night on a Cam Atkinson goal from the slot, a seemingly harmless shot that slipped through a screened Lankinen for Atkinson’s 20th of the season. Atkinson’s goal put the Flyers back on top for the first time since 1-0 and in position to pull out a win.

Some more extracurricular shenanigans did not change the on-ice numbers, but resulted in a penalty box party, with Risto, Konecny, Caleb Jones, and Murphy all being sent to the box for roughing. A few moments later, Seth Jones and Lindblom came together on a play that sent them both to the box, Lindblom a double-minor for high sticking and Jones for holding, putting Chicago on their first power play of the game.

They would not score, and eventually pulled Lankinen with under two minutes left, before taking yet another penalty for too many men on the ice, putting Lankinen back in the net for a few moments before coming out again and evening up the skaters. Nothing would come of it, though, and the Flyers walked away with two points.

Stray observations:

  • The Flyers played an entire game with Kevin Hayes in the lineup and he did not appear to sustain any injuries at all. This, unfortunately, is worth mentioning as a positive.
  • Today was Marvel day or something like that at the Wells Fargo Center. These are all pretty first thought and I will not defend or explain them, but:

Giroux is Captain America
Oskar is Thor
Farabee is Spider-Man
Cam is Hawkeye
Coots is Scarlet Witch
Provy is Mr. Fantastic
Konecny is Ant-Man when he’s small
Sanheim is Ant-Man when he’s big
Kevin Hayes is Deadpool
Gritty is Thanos
Ryan Ellis is Captain Marvel
Laughton is the Punisher
Risto is Beta Ray Bill
Braun is Bucky Barnes
JvR is uh Ghost Rider
And I mean, Yandle as Iron Man doesn’t really fit but also it does so

  • Congratulations to the great Wayne Simmonds on his 1,000th NHL game today for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Simmonds played 584 of those games as a Flyer, scoring at or very near a 30-goal pace in six seasons, terrorizing opposing goalies on PECO Power Plays, skating like he was angry at the ice, and embedding himself deep within the hearts of Philly fans. He has since found a home with his childhood team and they seem to be treating him pretty well up there. Party on, Wayne.
  • Our best wishes to Kevin Connauton, who looked like he had some trouble standing upright after a Kirby Dach hit scrunched his head between Dach and the corner glass.

Stray stats:

  • The Flyers are now 65-47-30-0 (W-L-T-OTL) against Chicago all-time. Shockingly, they have never lost an overtime game to the Blackhawks despite the longevity of both franchises.
  • Philly has not lost to Chicago in the regular season in Philadelphia in their last 17 games, which extends all the way back to 1996. Of course, if you watched the ABC broadcast, you already know this because they mentioned it like seven times. They kind of glossed over the single non-regular season game that went the other way, though.
  • This was Joel Farabee’s third career three-assist game, tying his game high. Both of his previous triple-helper box scores came last season. The Flyers won both of those previous games.
  • This was Martin Jones’ first win in this calendar year. He last won a game on December 29 against the Seattle Kraken and lost eight in between those two. He moves to 6-11-3 on the season.
  • Both Oskar Lindblom and Derick Brassard scored on their only shots of the game. Cam Atkinson scored twice on three shots.