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Wrap: Flyers Drop 3-1 to Decision to Arizona

December 5, 2019, 10:22 PM ET [184 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
In the second game of a three-game homestand, the Flyers fell, 3-1, to the Arizona Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. Philly dominated puck possession at 5-on-5 for most of the night but could got get onto the score sheet until it was late in the game and they were down by two goals.

Phil Kessel (power play, 5th) and Conor Garland (11th) scored for Arizona to build a 2-0 lead despite their paucity of shots and chances. Matt Niskanen (3rd) cut the gap to 2-1 at 6-on-5 before Kessel scored a power play empty netter to seal a 3-1 win for the Coyotes.

Darcy Kuemper earned the win, stopping 28 of 29 shots. Brian Elliott took the loss, stopping 14 of 16 shots. Overall, the Flyers held a 66-37 advantage in total shot attempts (SOG + blocked shots + missed shots).

"We get a 10 for effort tonight but a 7 for execution," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said.

"When you look at all the numbers after tonight, we’ll be double in possession double and double the shots and everything. But we couldn't find a way to beat their goaltender. So, I like the way we worked. But execution wise with the puck, we're a little off and a lot of people will say they defended well. We had the puck all night. So that's what happened."

The Flyers went 0-for-3 on the power play. They struggled to get set up for much of the time but did generate some good looks they were unable to put on net. The penalty kill went 2-for-4 (the latter was actually a 5-on-5 empty netter).

A rarity so far this season for the Flyers, a PK coverage miscue cost them the first goal of the game. Kessel finished off the back end of a give-and-go saucer pass from Clayton Keller. Although Philly established large-scale territorial control over most of the game, they never made a dent on the score sheet until after the Coyotes got a vital insurance goal.

The Flyers had some issues dealing with tight checking by Arizona in the first period (shots on goal were 5-5) but picked things up in the latter stages. A shorthanded 2-on-1 chance for Kevin Hayes set up by Scott Laughton and some strong forechecking by Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes represented the sparse highlights for the Flyers.

The Flyers had good offensive zone possession time but lived too much on the perimeter and had trouble completing passes into the slot or getting shots through (21 attempts but 10 got blocked and 6 others missed the net).

The ice was tilted in the Flyers' favor most of the second period (14-3 shot edge) and there was also multiple high-quality chances. It was a frustrating period for Morgan Frost, who had a pair of great looks at the net but couldn't get the puck on net (one blocked, one shot high). Three poor puck decisions on a late period power play -- one each by JVR, Frost and Jakub Voracek -- led to a downer ending to an otherwise strong stanza.

Frost, after posting a pair of goals and three points in his first two NHL games, has gone pointless in each of the last seven games. He was fighting the puck a bit in this game although hustling to the right spots. Frost attempted six shots in this game, getting blocked four times and missing the net twice.

One of the adjustments for Frost that's a work in progress: in the OHL and American Hockey League, he served as the puck distributor on the half boards (the spot occupied with the Flyers by Claude Giroux). With the Flyers, he's been stationed in the slot and is handling fewer pucks.

"It is a little different for me," Frost said. "But I think getting an opportunity on the power play is special in itself and I just have to learn to play in that spot. I think I could definitely use some work there. I haven’t played much there, so I am just trying to learn."

Garland's rebound goal at 12:57 of the third period provided vital insurance for Arizona after the Flyers had again controlled most the territorial play. With Elliott pulled early for an extra attacker, Niskanen got the Flyers back within a goal on a point shot that deflected off Garland and through traffic in front. Sean Couturier and Voracek got the assists.

A late cross-checking penalty on Hayes again put the Flyers in dire straights. Philly again pulled Elliott and pressured 5-on-5 but once the Coyotes got out of the defensive zone, Kessel had an empty-netter.

"We played well. We didn’t give up a ton. I thought we had the puck a lot. We could have maybe worked for some more quality chances sooner in the game. But overall a pretty good game. We just went on a good run, so, move past this one and try to start another one," Niskanen said.

Apart from his assist, Couturier had eight shot attempts (four on net, two that were blocked,two that mussed the net), one credited hit, a blocked shot and was 17-for-26 (65.4 pct) on faceoffs.

The Flyers will hold a noon practice on Friday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees. On Saturday, they host Ottawa in a 1 p.m. game to conclude the three-game homestand.
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