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Flyers-Blues: Felix Sandstrom Gets 1st Win As Retro Philly Rolls

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Felix Sandstrom, Philadelphia Flyers
Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom replaced scheduled starter Carter Hart Tuesday against visiting St. Louis. Hart was ill.

The Philadelphia Flyers wore Cooperalls in warmups and reverse retro jerseys during Tuesday’s game. Then they continued the retro theme, going back to their Broad Street Bullies days as Nick Seeler and Zack MacEwen got into fights with St. Louis counterparts in the first 4:30.

Seeler decisioned former Flyer Brayden Schenn in his bout.

“I think he just wanted to get things going for them, and he asked me right off the faceoff,” Seeler said. “I said ‘yeah,’ and we went.”

It was the Flyers, however, who were awakened. They dominated the first period in shots (18-9) and possession, and got second-period goals from Wade Allison, Travis Konecny and Noah Cates en route to a 5-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center.

Second periods were troublesome for the Flyers last season. Not this year. They had a 3-0 second-period domination Tuesday, giving them a 14-4 advantage in that stanza this season.

The Flyers, despite having several of their top players injured, are off to a stunning 7-3-2 start. St. Louis lost its eighth straight and slipped to 3-8.

Here are five quick observations:

1. Nice to see goalie Felix Sandstrom play with a rested team.

Starting because Carter Hart was ill and was a late scratch, Sandstrom stopped 27 of 28 shots and won for the first time in the NHL. He had been 0-7-1, including 0-3 this season.

Sandstrom, 25, played reasonably well in his first three starts this year, but didn’t get much support from his teammates. All of those starts were on the second end of back-to-back games, when his teammates were fatigued.

On Tuesday, his team was playing for the first time since Saturday, and they looked like the much livelier team throughout the game. St. Louis played on back-to-back nights.

Sandstrom stopped the first 21 shots before Ryan O’Reilly cut the deficit to 3-1 with 14:38 left in regulation. But Lukas Sedlak scored on a backhander out front just 1:22  later. It was his first goal with the Flyers.

2. Power forward Wade Allison made his presence felt.

The sturdy right winger scored after a scramble out front to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead midway through the second period. Ivan Provorov set up the tally, Allison’s third of the young season.

Allison, playing on the second line with Scott Laughton and Joel Farabee,  also contributed seven hits and put three shots on goal against backup goalie Thomas Greiss.

3. It wasn’t surprising that the teams got into two early fights.

Both teams play with a physical style that is encouraged by their coaches the Flyers’ John Tortorella and St. Louis’ Craig Berube.

Berube likes what he sees from the Flyers, the team he used to coach after his playing days in Philly.

“They’re a hard-working team, a meat-and-potatoes team,” he said before the game. “They’re going to give you the work ethic. They’re going to outwork you. That’s what they do. They’re going to play pretty direct hockey.”

 

4. Rasmus Ristolainen had a strong game in his return to the lineup.

The 6-foot-4, 221-pound defenseman played on the third pairing with Nick Seeler, and he blocked two shots on one shift — one that probably saved a goal — late in the first period.

“Felt great,” cracked Ristolainen about the pain of the two blocks. “Gets the blood going.”

All told, he had three hits, three blocks and a plus-2 rating.

Before the game, Ristolainen — who was minus-4 in his first four games — agreed with coach Tortorella’s assessment that he was struggling. He was a healthy scratch in the previous game.

“That’s how it should be,” he said before the opening faceoff. “If you don’t perform to the level that’s expected, then you don’t earn to be in the lineup.”

5. Precision passing helps Noah Cates get a much-needed goal.

Cates has played well defensively, but hasn’t looked like the same offensive player as when he got into the lineup late last season.

His goal with three seconds left in the second period, however, should help his confidence.

Cates had a tap-in after a slick passing play. Travis Sanheim took a pass from Scott Laughton and whipped a perfect feed at the doorstep to Cates. He made it 3-0 with his second goal of the season and first in nine games.

He added a hard-working assist on Sedlak’s goal.

Breakaways

Seeler was in the first-period fight, delivered four hits, collected an assist and was plus-2 in 15:27. … Joel Farabee collected his 100th career point. … MacEwen had six hits. … Owen Tippett, who made it 5-1 with a late goal, made a nice feed to set up Konecny’s goal, his team-leading fifth of the season. Konecny had two points. … Cates lost all eight of his faceoffs. … The Flyers play Thursday in Columbus. … The Flyers Carnival will be held March 26.

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