The Philadelphia Flyers returned to action on Thursday night. Well, about half of the team did at least.
The Flyers were without six lineup regulars due to COVID protocols and it showed in a 3-2 sootout loss to the New York Rangers.
The Orange and Black got things started quickly with a goal in the first minute. Nicolas Aube-Kubel jammed home a loose puck in the crease just 59 seconds into the game to open the scoring.
It was a good sequence by the second line with all three forwards picking up points on the goal.
The top two lines carried the load in the first period for the Flyers, as expected. With four (or five if you include Connor Bunnaman) non-regulars in the lineup, the top six needed to get it done.
That second line (Raffl – Hayes – Aube-Kubel) played 3:45 at 5-on-5 in the first period, with the top line (van Riemsdyk – Couturier – Farabee) just behind at 2:22 due to a few power plays. The fourth line (Morin – Andreoff – Sushko) played just 1:14 at 5-on-5 in the opening frame.
Speaking of power plays, the Flyers picked up right where they left off on the power play: poorly. They were able to move the puck around a bit on their second man-advantage, but neither unit created anything too dangerous.
The Flyers really carried the play early in the first period, but the Rangers – led by Artemi Panarin – had some offensive-zone time as well. A good Rangers cycle after an icing was fortunately ended by a tripping penalty for the Flyers’ aforementioned second power play.
The Rangers got their first power play of the game late in the first period. Andy Andreoff was called for roughing in the offensive zone, then during the delayed penalty Robert Hagg took a holding penalty. That created a five-on-three chance for the Rangers.
However, just 35 seconds into the 5-on-3, Couturier drew a hooking penalty along the wall. Panarin had a few good shots – including one off the post – on the 4-on-3, but the Flyers were able to kill it off to head into the second period with a 1-0 lead.
The second period skewed more toward the Rangers. The Flyers looked sloppier, particularly in their own zone, and still couldn’t get anything going on the power play.
The second line had a good chance early in the period, but Hayes’ netfront pass couldn’t connect.
David Kase was one of the pleasant surprises in this game. He had some expectations coming in and was noticeable throughout the night. In the second period he lifted a stick of a Rangers defenseman to create a turnover that resulted in one of the Flyers’ best chances of the period.
Unfortunately, the Flyers couldn’t add to their lead before the Rangers tied it up.
The Rangers scored a deflection goal on the power play to tie the game at one early in the period.
They had another great chance late in the period that resulted in a penalty shot.
Despite Pavel Buchnevich getting a good shot off during live play, they called a penalty shot and Hart denied him again.
It looked like the Rangers would take the lead as they outshot the Flyers 12-7 in the second period, but the Flyers escaped with a 1-1 tie.
The third period was much of the same with the Rangers getting the better of the play.
After pushing hard in the second and third periods, the Rangers finally took their first lead of the game midway through the third.
There were some chances for the Flyers to get back into it and tie the game at two, but it took until they pulled the goalie in the final minutes.
Couturier’s shot went wide, and Hayes’ shot was blocked, but Farabee was able to jam the puck into the net to tie the game with 1:14 left.
He was pumped up.
After a rather uneventful overtime – outside of a great penalty kill by the Flyers – the game headed to the shootout.
The Rangers scored on their first two shots, and Sean Couturier was the only Flyers player able to score.
And it was a beauty.
The Flyers earned a point by forcing overtime in a game that they probably shouldn’t have. They had a shorthanded lineup and were a bounce or two away from winning the game.
The Flyers fall to 8-3-3 with the shootout loss. They have 19 points in 14 games.
Ultimately it’s not a win, but forcing overtime and getting that point is something to build upon heading into Sunday’s game at Lake Tahoe.
Photo Credit: Heather Barry Images