The Philadelphia Flyers, inexplicably, did not do much at the NHL trade deadline. Veteran winger James van Riemsdyk, who reportedly was nearly traded to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday, was in the lineup once again for the Flyers’ Sunday evening tilt against, hilariously, the Red Wings.
You just can’t help but laugh.
But while the Flyers were mostly inactive for Friday’s trade deadline, the lineup did end up looking slightly different against Detroit. For one, Tanner Laczynski, who has been out of commission since December with a lower-body injury, made his return to the lineup. Plus, Brendan Lemieux, the Flyers’ lone addition at the trade deadline, made his debut with the Orange & Black.
Neither Laczynski nor Lemieux ended up making much of a statistical impact Sunday at Wells Fargo Center, but the Flyers did end up snapping their four-game losing streak with a 3-1 win over Detroit, so you likely won’t hear any complaining from the latest roster additions.
Scott Laughton, in the 500th game of his NHL career, scored the empty-net marker to seal the deal and earn the Flyers their 24th victory of the season. The 28-year-old now has 79 goals and 114 total points in his decade-long tenure with the Flyers.
“It means the world to me honestly. I have a deep care for this organization and the people in it,” said Laughton.
“My parents surprised me this morning. Had a nice meal with them. You look back on it and you think about all the people that helped you along the way. And that’s my parents, my grandparents, my wife, my brother. Just people like that that put in so much time with me when I was growing up.
“I love being a Flyer. We’ve gotta get this thing back on track, and I think we will.”
The Flyers fell behind early when Red Wings forward David Perron opened the scoring just 4:51 into the first period. The veteran winger beat Flyers goaltender Carter Hart with a shot that, on most occasions, probably would’ve been stopped.
But while the Red Wings broke the ice, the Flyers actually got off to a strong start, challenging Detroit goaltender Ville Husso with numerous high-danger scoring chances in the game’s first 20 minutes.
The Flyers finally managed to solve Husso in the middle frame. And, of all people, it was fourth-liner Nic Deslauriers who got the Flyers on the board. On the Red Wings’ first power play of the game, Deslauriers forced a turnover at the blue line and raced toward Husso all alone, beating him with a wrister to log the Flyers’ 11th shorthanded goal of the season.
“The funny part is I’m not here to score goals, but when I do, the guys are pumped,” said Deslauriers. “It’s funny. When I go to touch hands they’re all laughing, so it’s great.”
Flyers sharpshooter Nic Deslauriers ties the game with the team's 11th shorthanded goal of the season. Simply remarkable. pic.twitter.com/NnFJ0BevMV— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) March 6, 2023
Six minutes after the Deslauriers tally, Noah Cates scored a goal of his own. Defenseman Nick Seeler, another player who was rumored to potentially be moved ahead of the trade deadline, fired a point wrister toward Husso with traffic in front. Cates, stationed directly next to the goal crease, redirected the shot past Husso to give the Flyers their first lead of the night.
Cates ended up playing an integral role in this victory for the Flyers, and not just because of his game-winning marker.
With 4:37 remaining in the final frame, Dylan Larkin had a glorious opportunity to tie the game for his club with Hart out of position during a mad scramble for a loose puck. But just as Larkin attempted to fire his shot toward the mostly-empty net, Cates appeared to disrupt the shot with his stick, causing the puck to flutter out of play.
A potentially game-saving play from one of the Flyers’ bright young players.
“He’s a complete player. I trust him in all situations, as you see. Good for him to get rewarded with a goal,” said head coach John Tortorella.
“I think as his career keeps going, I think he’s gonna feel more comfortable in offensive situations. But the way we’re trying to play, he’s a guy I need. He needs to lead the way that way as far as the checking part of it.”
The Flyers had limited Detroit’s scoring opportunities for much of the contest, holding them to just 15 shots on goal through the game’s first 40 minutes. That largely continued in the final frame as the Red Wings struggled to generate any high-grade scoring chances.
Hart was solid throughout the game, stopping 25 of the Red Wings’ 26 shots on net.
At this point, the Flyers pretty much have no chance of making the playoffs with just 19 games left to play in the regular season. But after last week’s disaster of a trade deadline that has fans calling for general manager Chuck Fletcher’s head, this was a game the Flyers badly needed to win. Even if it only counts as a moral victory.
After all, looking at the Flyers’ upcoming schedule, wins won’t exactly be easy to come by in the next couple weeks.
The Flyers return to action Tuesday in Florida against an angry Tampa Bay Lightning team fresh off a 6-0 drubbing to the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon. And on Thursday, the Flyers will face that same Carolina team in Raleigh to get their first glimpse at Shayne Gostisbehere in a Hurricanes sweater.