Flames 6, Flyers 5: As predictable as they come
Did we honestly expect anything else?
The Flyers blew a late lead (again) and lost in overtime. At least we got that point though, right?!
Alright, who had Phil Varone getting the game’s first great scoring chance tonight? The Flyers and Flames started off with a solid pace, and Varone would be the first to get a prime scoring opportunity on a breakaway. Alas, he rang it off the iron. Around the five minute mark of the period, the Flyers would go to the power play on a “slash” (it wasn’t a slash but shh) by Flames captain Mark Giordano. Despite a solid chance by James van Riemsdyk looking to bury one in tight, Mike Smith and the Flames held the Flyers at bay and the score remained knotted at zero.
Anthony Stolarz was up to the task in the minutes following the power play, as he was forced to make a few big saves on the Flames counterattack. In the midst of this fury by Calgary, Travis Sanheim would sustain a leg injury that needless to say did not look good. What was good however, was the fact Sanheim would return to the game around the 13 minute mark of the period. Back to the negatives, Robert Hagg seemingly forgot how to play defense for a second and left Sam Bennett all alone to give the Flames an early lead.
Oh, you thought the Flyers were out of the woods with possible injuries? Think again! Ivan Provorov blocked a shot late in the first from Elias Lindholm and essentially crawled to the bench. The puck appeared to go off of his ankle, but once again the Flyers would seemingly escape any serious injuries, as Provorov returned for the penalty kill on a Michael Raffl trip. Provorov, despite his struggles this season is a warrior and he put that on display yet again tonight.
The penalty kill would be up to the task on their first try tonight, as Stolarz and co. shut down Calgary and kept the game 1-0, which would be the score at the end of the period. Overall, a solid first period for the Flyers with a few frightening moments for two of the team’s young star defensemen.
Gameflow/heatmap after first period
The second frame would start with a bang as the man who played his junior hockey in Calgary opened the period with a dazzling goal. Giroux fed the streaking Sanheim down the left wing, Sanheim cut to the opposite side and proceeded to slide the puck by Smith and tie the game at one.
Sanheim ties the game! pic.twitter.com/H4Oozwdip1— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 13, 2018
I think it’s fair to say he’s recovered from that first period collision, eh? Shortly after, the Flyers would go on the power play after Sean Monahan tripped Andrew MacDonald. The second unit began the man-advantage and the roller coaster began. Wayne Simmonds almost finished a fantastic passing play, then Giordano scores a shorthanded goal after a turnover by the second unit, then James van Riemsdyk buried the rebound on a Sean Couturier shot, to tie the game right back up. This ended a goalless drought for the power play, scored by the guy who specializes in power play goals. Just seconds later, Couturier was involved in the offense yet again as he fired home a pass from Voracek to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
JvR put his hand-eye coordination on display with that. pic.twitter.com/aDRGIVdZ8U— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 13, 2018
And just like that, the Flyers are up! pic.twitter.com/Ru5tNJ7Wxb— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 13, 2018
Two goals in 32 seconds and just like that the offense bails out the miscue on the power play. While Smith definitely didn’t look his best in the early going, the next goal was just straight up awful. Dale Weise fired a shot just beyond the faceoff circle and one would assume this sentence finishes with “and it was easily stopped by Mike Smith.” Instead, it results in “Dale Weise just scored from beyond the faceoff circle what in the world is going on??”
Somehow, Weise scores here. pic.twitter.com/17coRgvka0— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 13, 2018
In typical Flyers fashion, they followed this goal with flopping around like dead fish in their own zone, resulting in a penalty and a power play for Calgary. The Flames would take advantage, as Sean Monahan was fed a perfect pass in the slot and rifled the puck by Stolarz. After heading into the period down 1-0, we reach the midway mark of the second with the score 4-3 Flyers. Things got a bit wild, folks!
Play would eventually slow down, and turn into more of a tight-checking game, as the period progressed. Late in the second though, Derek Ryan was called for holding on Claude Giroux, sending the Flyers to their third man advantage of the game. The power play would be lackluster however, failing to score before the end of the period leaving them 21 seconds left on the power play to start the third and final period.
Gameflow/heatmap after second period
The power play would fail to score in the remaining seconds, and shortly thereafter Wayne Simmonds would put them on the penalty kill. A quick left punch from Simmonds on Bennett in a scrum, sent him to the box and the Flyers down a man. Anthony Stolarz would come up huge yet again with a sprawling, fantastic save on Monahan, and the penalty kill would keep the Flyers up by one. Stolarz would make another spectacular save on James Neal moments later, keeping the Flyers alive against the surging Flames.
Scott Laughton would pick up a holding call, sending the Flyers once again to the penalty kill. And like clockwork, Stolarz was making key saves to keep the Flyers ahead. As they had almost killed off the Laughton penalty, Michael Raffl took another holding penalty and the Flames would stay on the power play. As the power play was coming to an end, Sean Couturier took manners into his own hands, knocking the puck away from Noah Hanifin and breaking away for a shorthanded goal to make it 5-3. After going much of the season without scoring a shorthanded goal, the Flyers now have three on the season.
Sean "should have won the Selke" Couturier strikes shorthanded. pic.twitter.com/5svPEDs4cz— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 13, 2018
Then, in an apparent ploy to get Couturier another shorthanded goal because he’s just such a great team player, Shayne Gostisbehere slashed Elias Lindholm sending the Flyers back to the penalty kill. While there was a lot to like from this game, the penalties were flat out ridiculous and needs to be a one off kind of performance moving forwards.
The Flames would pull David Rittich, who came in for Mike Smith to start the third, with just under three minutes to go, and with 1:08 remaining in the period Rasmus Andersson scored his first NHL goal to make it a one goal game. With the goalie pulled again, and just seven seconds remaining in the game, Sean Monahan buried the rebound by Stolarz and the Flames tied the game at five. Just when you thought this team was going to break the trend of giving up late leads, they do in fact, give up the late lead.
As everyone expected, Johnny Gaudreau scores the overtime winner off a rebound and the Flames score three unanswered to win the game 6-5 in overtime. This team is so predictable I probably could have typed out this recap before the game even started, and it wouldn’t have been all that far off from the end result. Go team!
Graphics courtesy of Natural Stat Trick