The Philadelphia Flyers’ season, which fell apart with a 10-game losing streak in November, ended on a positive note Thursday in Chicago.
Flyers 5, Blackhawks 4.
Defenseman Ivan Provorov scored a highlight-film goal to win it in thrilling fashion.
Travis Konecny had four points (two goals, two assists), and several of the young players who have made an impact had strong games as the Flyers finished with a 31-38-13 record.
Owen Tippett scored a goal for the third straight game, Morgan Frost had a pair of assists, and Noah Cates deposited his 13th goal in a strong rookie season. Cates, a solid defensive player, finished with 38 points, sixth among NHL rookies.
“Seeing those guys take those steps this year was huge,” Justin Braun said.
The Flyers missed the playoffs for the third straight season, the first time that has happened since the early 1990s.
Jonathan Toews, playing the final game in his iconic Chicago career, received a standing ovation as he deflected home a power-play goal to cut the Flyers’ lead to 4-3 with 12:20 to go in the second.
“It’s almost hard to accept that love and that praise,” said Toews, whose team announced earlier in the day it would not re-sign him. “So I tried my best to just soak it all in.”
With their goalie pulled for an extra attacker, the Blackhawks tied it at 4-all as speedy Andreas Athanasiou scored from out front with two minutes left in regulation.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 14, 2023
Just before Provorov went around a defender and scored, Toews had a breakaway in overtime. The fans stood and cheered in anticipation. It would have been a storybook ending to his Chicago career, one that included three Stanley Cups.
But Toews, who has not decided if he will play for another team next season, was denied by Felix Sandstrom (34 saves).
Here are five quick observations on the season-ender:
1. Travis Konecny reached a milestone.
The 26-year-old right winger took a slick feed from Frost and finished off a two-on-one just 26 seconds into the game. It was his 30th goal, the first time in his career he had reached that number.
About six minutes later, Konecny scored on a rebound for his 31st goal, making it 2-0. Frost again had the primary assist.
Because of injuries, Konecny played in just 60 games this season. He became the first Flyer to reach 30 since Sean Couturier had 33 in 2018-19. Konecny may have scored 40 if he was able to play in 82 games.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 14, 2023
2. Defenseman Justin Braun played in his final career game.
Braun, 36, a true pro who spent the bulk of his career with San Jose, took a solo lap before the game, and, in a classy move by the Flyers, his father, Paul, was with the coaches behind the bench.
That seemed to indicate he was playing the last game of his solid career. He was even put on the power play to try to get him his 200th career point.
“Yeah, I think so,” Braun said when asked by NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Keith Jones if this was the final game of his career. “It’s good to have my parents here and my family. It’s been a great run, and I, glad my family is here to enjoy it with me.”
He liked having his father behind the bench.
“He doesn’t know much about hockey; he raised me as a basketball dad,” Braun, a Minnesota native, said with a smile. “He had a couple pointers. It was great.”
During his journey around the ice, Braun said, “I was just trying to take it all in. … Lot of emotions and you think back of all the friends you’ve made and just the great times over 13 years.”
After the game, he said it was a “tough day, but I had a great run.”
Braun, who spent four seasons with the Flyers, started a three-way passing play that led to Cates’ power-play goal, but Konecny and Tippett recorded the assists. Tippett scored into an empty net after intercepting Seth Jones’ careless pass.
Nice moment for a true pro! https://t.co/8jFrvyhEH5
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) April 14, 2023
3. Tony DeAngelo remained in the doghouse.
John Tortorella benched the 27-year-old defenseman over the last five games, and it wouldn’t be surprising if the Flyers tried to deal him in the offseason. He led Flyers defensemen in goals (11) and points (42), but finished with a team-worst minus-27 rating.
Tortorella has declined explaining the reason for the benchings.
4. Rasmus Ristolainen continued his resurgence.
After a slow start, the veteran has regrouped and has probably been the Flyers best defenseman over the last three months. Since Jan. 16, he led Flyers defensemen in points (18) and plus-minus rating (even).
He was plus-1 on Thursday and had four shot attempt
5. In closing, what positive word describes the Flyers’ season?
Several young, unproven players like Frost, Tippett, Cates, and Cam York took major steps and look like important parts of the future. Ditto Sam Ersson and Tyson Foerster, players who had short but impressive stints with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The hiring of Danny Briere — hopefully he will soon be named the permanent general manager — was also a positive.
But this team needs more talent, more speed, and a big-time scorer it can lean on.
Briere will have a busy summer.
Frost: “We wanted that one for Brauner.” … James van Riemsdyk (four shots), a prospective free agent, played what is expected to be his final game in Orange and Black. He has 300 career goals, including 146 in eight years with the Flyers. He had 154 goals in six seasons with the Maple Leafs. … Assistant Darryl Williams ran the Flyers from behind the bench. … Nick Seeler, who missed the previous two games with an illness, returned to the lineup. … Steve Coates, working on the radio, broadcast the final Flyers game of epic career.