Wrap: Flyers Unable to Close out Isles, Lose in SO, 4-3: Phantoms Lose
Wrap: Flyers Unable to Close Out Isles, Lose 4-3 in SO
Staked to a 3-0 lead with less that 12 minutes left in regulation, the Philadelphia Flyers coughed it up and went to settle for a single point from a 4-3 (2-0) shootout loss to the New York Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday night.
With the comeback win, the Islanders (14-3-1) extended their point streak to 14 games, including a 10-0-1 mark over the last 11 matches. The Flyers are now 10-6-4.
"It’s a challenging league and we played against a very strong opponent today. I don’t think they have lost a game since the first week of October or something. So, we knew we were going to have our hands full," said Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault.
"Guys were trying to do the right play. If you look at the first two, with two goals, then a bad change leads to a power play goal. Those are things that might be fatigue oriented, maybe it is maybe it isn’t, but those are things that are within out control, so for me I’m very confident that we’ll be able to improve those areas, we won’t make those same mistakes again and we’ll be better next time."
Lapses in attention to detail -- specifically sloppy line changes -- proved very costly to Philadelphia. They got away with one on the second period, where the Islanders were unable to capitalize on a 3-on-1 rush (eventually a 4-on-1). In the third period, a bad defensive change resulted in a partial breakaway that cut the Isles gap to 3-1. Then a too-many-men penalty on another faulty defensive change was cashed in by New York in the waning seconds of a power play. A failed chance to break out of the defensive zone and a leaky bouncing goal resulted in the game going to overtime.
The Flyers were playing for the third time in four nights, and the sixth time in 10 nights. Conversely, New York in the midst of a light portion of their schedule that will see them play just twice between Nov. 10 to 18. Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott said he believed fatigue was a factor in the type of lapses the team suffered as the game progressed, while defenseman Ivan Provorov dismissed that idea along with Vigneault.
"It is a tired bunch of guys after a game last night and getting in late. I think it caught up with us with a couple of decisions here and there. Changes, the power play and the breakaway there on the first goal. I think just kind of all added up and we tried to weather the storm and we got a point out of it, but it is definitely frustrating," Elliott said.
"You have to close out games. The little plays: getting the puck out when you can, allowing guys to change, just keeping fresh bodies on the ice and not getting stuck out there. We spent a little too much time doing that. We will look at it and I’m sure we will find some other things too. We have to rally up, another game coming up here."
Said Vigneault, "There’s no excuses from this group. I mean you got a game to play and you got to go out and play it. At the end of the day, it is a challenging schedule but not making any excuses, the schedule is what it is, and you've got to play through it."
All of the Flyers scoring came from a reconstituted version of Sean Couturier's line. Amid a slew of line combo changes, Joel Farabee was moved onto Couturier's line with Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny went to Claude Giroux's unit.
Philly's 5-on-5 goals came from Couturier (6th) off a feed from Lindblom, and then a left circle shot by Lindblom (9th) that found the net. In between, the Couturier-driven power play unit produced an Ivan Provorov power play goal (4th). Couturier, Lindblom and Provorov each had two-point games, and Lindblom was also credited with a game-high four takeaways. Farabee and Matt Niskanen chipped in one assist apiece.
In the shootout, Couturier nearly scored but his shot fluttered off the crossbar and stayed out. Claude Giroux was unable to find the net in a must-score attempt.
Brian Elliott had a few early adventures in the first period then settled in for much of the game. He was the team's best player in a lopsided second period that nevertheless resulted in Philly extending a two-goal lead to three. In the third period, he gave up two goals -- breakaway five-hole and then power play from the slot -- that were not on him, but it looked like he should have had the tying goal. He made three saves in overtime to finish with 33 saves on 36 shots. In the post-game skills competition, Elliott was twice more beaten through the five hole.
Phil Myers was a healthy scratch, for what Vigneault described as performance-related reasons in the Washington and Ottawa games. Robert Hägg (14:56 TOI across, 19 shots, six hits, one shot on two attempts, one block) returned to the lineup. Additionally, Carsen Twarynski was scratched in favor of Chris Stewart (7:45 TOI across nine shifts, one hit, one giveaway, two blocks).
The Flyers reconfigured starting fourth line trio of Andy Andreoff (10 shifts, 9:46 TOI) centering Tyler Pitlick (the line's most effective player skated 15 shifts including 1:44 on the PK) and Stewart got hemmed in deep several times during the game.
Anthony Beauvillier (5th and 6th) began and completed the Islanders' third period comeback. Sandwiched in between was Mathew Barzal's power play goal (9th). Brock Nelson had a pair of assists (9th and 10th), as did Derick Brassard (6th and 7th).
In the shootout, Jordan Eberle and Barzal scored in succession.
Thomas Greiss would have liked to have Lindblom's goal back. He nevertheless finished with 28 saves on 31 shots in regulation and OT.
The Flyers went 1-for-3 on the power play at 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Couturier and Provorov had contradictory takes on what happened in the third period.
"I don’t think we sat back. I think we got caught in some bad changes.... We gave them momentum and couldn’t get it back," Couturier said.
Said Provorov, "We sat back and started making mistakes, turning the puck over in the neutral zone and not getting the puck out of our zone when we needed to."
Couturier sniped a beautiful shot from the right circle off a cross-ice feed from Lindblom for a 1-0 lead at 1:38 of the first period. Provorov made it 2-0 with a center point blast through a layered screen (Lindblom and Farabee) at 19:36. The Islanders had nine of the game's first twelve shots on goal but the Flyers came on later to post a 14-9 edge by intermission.
New York enjoyed a 13-4 shot advantage in the middle frame but some bad luck with the goal posts, two Flyers penalty kills, and multiple clutch saves by Elliott held them at bay. At 12:20, Lindblom fired a shot from above the left faceoff dot that made it through under Greiss' glove hand to build a 3-0 lead.
In the third period, the Flyers didn't do much with a power play opportunity to extend the lead to 4-0 but seemed to be in decent shape early. After the Flyers got caught in a line change, Beauvillier moved in past Travis Sanheim and, now one-on-one with Elliott, slipped the puck between his pads to get New York on the board at 7:46.
After a too-many-men penalty on Philly, a block by Matt Niskanen and Provorov playing goalie in the crease to deny Anders Lee with Elliott caught out of the net gave the Flyers a temporary reprieve. However, with 10 seconds left on the power play clock, Barzal beat Elliott from the slot to make it a 3-2 game at 13:34.
The Flyers failure to break out of their defensive zone put them in jeopardy and Beauvillier's bouncer that got past Elliott tied the game at 17:56 on what was credited as an unassisted goal.
Provorov said, "I don’t think [fatigue was the issue]. It is just execution and being able to stay focused and know what the score is and be able to play the right way."
Added Lindblom, "It’s just focus. We’re old enough to recognize when we have to be on the ice or not. I think it’s not good enough and we have to be better."
Overtime was conservatively played, with both teams dropping back and regrouping several times. In the waning seconds, the Flyers had a 2-on-1 rush. Puck-carrier Travis Konecny attempted a pass rather than shooting from the top of the right circle. The play was broken up, and New York went on to prevail in the skills competition.
The Flyers will have a total off-day on Sunday. They will practice on Monday at 11:30 a.m. ET in Voorhees. The following night, the Flyers will be in Sunrise to take on Joel Quenneville's Florida Panthers.
PHANTOMS LOSE 2-1 TO WB/S
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms, now winless in their last four games (0-3-1), have had all sorts of problems of late putting the puck in the net. Those issues continued on Saturday night with a 2-1 road loss to the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The game was tied at 1-1 heading into the third period. Mikhail Vorobyev's backhanded follow-up (4th) of a Greg Carey shot in the opening minute of the second period got the Phantoms even after a late first period power play goal by Sam Militec. David Worsofsky broke the deadlock early in the second period and the Phantoms were unable to find a second goal.
Alex Lyon stopped 23 of 25 shots in a losing cause. Ex-Phantom Dustin Tokarski earned the win with 31 saves on 32 shots. The Phantoms went 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the PK.