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Flyers Steal Back-And-Forth Game, Defeat Coyotes, 5-3

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The Philadelphia Flyers closed their three-game homestand against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. (Photo: AP)

Closing out a three-game homestand against the Arizona Coyotes, the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Arizona Coyotes, 5-3, at Wells Fargo Center on Monday night.

The Flyers were without Tyson Foerster (lower-body) and Rasmus Ristolainen (upper-body) against the Coyotes on Monday night, but both players have a chance of returning for Saturday’s Stadium Series matchup with the New Jersey Devils at MetLife Stadium.

A relatively slow first period was tilted slightly in favor of the Flyers, who had the more dangerous scoring chances of the two teams. Cam York’s power play one-timer from the blueline sat in the crease for a while before Travis Sanheim popped the rebound up high and wide. A few minutes later, Cam Atkinson stole the puck on the forecheck and cut across Karel Vejmelka’s face, but Arizona’s goaltender was disciplined enough to stay in position to stop the backhander to his far side.

A terrible breakout sequence from Nick Seeler and Sean Walker allowed the Coyotes to retain possession in their offensive zone, and shortly thereafter, Matt Dumba scored his third of the season from long range to give Arizona a 1-0 lead. With around a minute to go in the first period, Nick Schmaltz nearly connected with Jack McBain on the rush for a tap-in at the far post, but Couturier was able to haggle McBain enough to prevent any kind of shot attempt.

The Flyers started the second period by swapping Ryan Poehling and Couturier. Poehling’s crafty zone entry allowed Travis Konecny to set up Travis Sanheim’s drive and score… except a swift review after the goal determined the play was offside; no goal.

Atkinson’s line-breaking breakout pass five minutes into the second sprung Morgan Frost on a breakaway, on which he was subsequently hooked to give the Flyers a penalty shot. Frost swung wide left and waited and waited before firing a well-placed shot over Vejmelka’s blocker to tie the game at 1-1.

Four-on-four hockey was played after Sean Durzi and Travis Sanheim (dubiously) took penalties within two seconds of each other. Owen Tippett had a shot earmarked for the top left corner from the high slot, if it wasn’t for that pesky crossbar. Moments later, Matias Maccelli banked a loose puck in off the back of Sam Ersson to restore Arizona’s one-goal lead. Couturier and Egor Zamula were both in the immediate vicinity of Maccelli, but neither came close to stopping him on the goal.

Things started to get chippy after that goal; Joel Farabee shoved a Coyotes defender unprompted before Cam York was called for a cross-check. On the ensuing penalty kill, Sean Walker was rammed by Jason Zucker, yielding an interference penalty and another round of 4-on-4. Scott Laughton and Konecny hooked up on a 2-on-1 merely seconds later to tie the game at 2-2.

Alex Kerfoot answered for the Coyotes after yet another defensive breakdown, giving Arizona a 3-2 lead. York pinched in the neutral zone but didn’t get the puck. Walker slide over to cover Zucker on the wing, but nobody had Kerfoot. One slick move around Ersson later, and the Flyers were losing again.

With less than two minutes to go in the middle frame, Nick Seeler nearly threaded the needle to Frost on a diagonal offensive zone pass from the left circle, but the puck really just hit the blade of Frost’s stick rather than Frost getting a shot off. Either way, Vejmelka was careful to dive on the puck to prevent any kind of rebound in a dangerous area.

The Flyers started the third period with 1:17 of run-off power play time, which the Coyotes killed off for the fifth time. A minute later, Durzi took his second penalty of the game to put Philadelphia on the advantage for the sixth time. Arizona killed that power play, too.

Fortunately, Jamie Drysdale scored his second Flyers goal, going on a mazy run from the blueline to the far right circle before firing a low shot to the far post through some heavy traffic. For those keeping score at home, that’s the third time the Flyers had to tie this game up to that point.

A strong shift with possession in the offensive zone was all the Flyers needed to take control, and they did just that. Laughton recovered a loose puck and wrapped it around Vejmelka to give Philadelphia their first lead of the night at 4-3. They were also awarded a power play immediately after; Matt Dumba committed a high-sticking penalty during the goal, and it would have been a four-minute double-minor. Because the Flyers scored, it was only a two-minute power play.

They didn’t score on that power play opportunity either…

The Flyers spent much of the last five minutes playing defense against the Coyotes, who, to their credit, played quite a strong game, even if the shot totals don’t reflect that. After all, they had the lead three times.

Tippett had other ideas, sealing the deal at 5-3 with an empty-net goal.

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