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Flyers Takeaways: Matthews, Maple Leafs Too Hot to Handle in OT Loss

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The Philadelphia Flyers had no luck stopping Auston Matthews on Thursday night. (Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers flew too close to the sun on Thursday night and fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs, losing 4-3 in overtime at Scotiabank Arena.

The final score doesn’t tell the whole story for the Flyers, though. They led 1-0, fell down 3-1, and came back to tie the game at 3-3 to earn an important extra point.

In fact, the truth is that the Flyers could have come away with a regulation win. Star power at one end and lack of finishing at the other really made all the difference.

Auston Matthews

Yes, Auston Matthews is a takeaway tonight.

This guy is an unbelievable talent. The NHL’s leader in goals since coming into the league, Matthews scored a natural hat trick against Philadelphia, giving him five hat tricks this year. The Flyers do not have one player with a single hat trick so far this season.

Matthews was left all alone on his first goal, which is usually a recipe for disaster, if you ask me. He scored three goals on 0.85 expected goals, per Moneypuck, which goes to show how elite of a shooter he truly is.

The Flyers didn’t do enough to limit No. 34’s shot attempts and chances and ultimately paid the price. Unfortunately, they deserved better because they were the better team.

Flyers Outplayed the Maple Leafs

Yeah, yeah. Moral victories this, loser point that. Give the Flyers credit, though. They played well and deserved two points.

At all situations, Philadelphia had an expected goals of 3.08, and Toronto had an expected goals of 2.58. Sam Ersson didn’t have the greatest night ever, but it’s hard to do that when your team lets Matthews shoot from decent positions.

Natural Stat Trick has the Flyers with an expected goals-for percentage of 61.21%, so it’s not like the Maple Leafs were piling on with Grade-A chances. Simply put, the hosts benefitted from one of the greatest shooters in the history of the game, while Philadelphia did not. Matvei Michkov will arrive in a few years, but the rest of the roster is still rough around the edges, at best.

Oh, and the Maple Leafs have that William Nylander guy. He was left wide-open in overtime to bury the winner; he’s pretty good too.

Flyers Have Something in Cates-Poehling Duo

Morgan Frost, Sean Couturier, and Cam Atkinson all had really bad nights at 5-on-5. Each of the three forwards was out-attempted at 5-on-5 by a ratio of 2:1 or greater. The good news is that the Flyers had other guys driving the bus on Thursday night.

Ryan Poehling was on the ice for a team-leading 24 shot attempts, while being on the ice for only 10 against. Linemate Noah Cates was on the ice for 14 shot attempts, and only seven against. Garnet Hathaway, who scored Philadelphia’s second goal to spark the comeback, was on the ice for 18 shot attempts and only nine against.

I suspect that Hathaway is only going to fill in for the injured Tyson Foerster until the youngster comes back from his injury, but it was refreshing to see Hathaway get on the scoresheet and truly dominate a game. Given how much John Tortorella has flip-flopped lines, I wouldn’t be shocked to see this change in the future. I’m also not saying I would support that.

The Flyers will have to take their lumps with them to East Rutherford, NJ on Saturday to face a New Jersey Devils team that has been very up-and-down. Couturier and Cam York both left Thursday night’s game early, so we’ll have updates on their statuses tomorrow, most likely.

I’ll see you then.

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