Wrap: Flyers Fail Again to Extinguish Flames, Lost 3-2 in OT
For the second time in less than a month, the Philadelphia Flyers were unable to close out a late-game lead against the Calgary Flames and wound up losing in overtime. On Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers never trailed at any point in regulation and did not give up a high quantity of scoring chances but -- in a continuation of an all-too familiar pattern -- the breakdowns that did happen were glaring and extremely costly.
The Western Conference leading Flames (26-13-4) were playing for the third time in less than four nights, and had a full practice on Friday. They were not at their sharpest in this game -- for example, taking a pair of too many men on the ice penalties and a delay of game penalty -- but stepped up when they needed to.
Matthew Tkachuk scored the game-time goal (19th) at 15:43 of the third period, and set up TJ Brodie for the game-winning goal (5th) at 1:59 of overtime. Johnny Gaudreau sniped a second period goal (24th) in the second period. Noah Hanifin chipped in his 19th and 20th assists, while Sean Monahan (30th assist) and Sam Bennett (8th assist) had one helper apiece.
David Rittich, apart from a miscue trying to play a puck far out of his net, had an outstanding game in net for the Flames. He stopped 32 of 34 shots with several outstanding saves.
Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (power play, 4th) scored his second goal of the season against Calgary and the first power play goal of his NHL career. In the third period, Travis Konecny scored (10th) to put the Flyers ahead.
Carter Hart, making his first start since a rough New Year's Eve outing in Carolina, played a solid game in goal for the Flyers. The 20-year-old deserved a better fate than what happened late in the game. He tracked pucks well and made a lot of clean saves. When tested, he made most of the saves and had little chance of stopping the goals he allowed. Overall, Hart stopped 29 of 32 shots.
After entering Thursday's game against Carolina in a 9-for-93 wasteland on the power play and starting that game 0-for-3 on the man advantage, Philadelphia scored on two consecutive power plays in the third period. That carried over into Saturday to making it three straight successful power plays as Sanheim and the team benefited from some self-made puck luck at 12:10 of the first period.
The sequence started with a good breakout by the Flyers second power play unit and a clean entry into the offensive zone. Weal and Sanheim worked a give-and-go. From the high left slot, Sanheim attempted to pass to Weal. Instead the puck went off Calgary defenseman Brodie's skate and perfectly deflected over Rittich to make it 1-0 in the Flyers' favor. The assists went to Weal (6th) and Ivan Provorov.
A second Flyers' power play produced massive pressure by Philly but no goal. Their third (early second period) was atrocious. The fourth went very much like the second, with the Flyers coming within a whisker twice of a goal but the puck staying out of the net.
Late in the opening period, Provorov lost the handle of the puck and wiped out near the defensive blueline, creating a 2-on-1 for Calgary. Hardly known for his defensive acumen but still working at improving it, Konecny provided some backchecking help to neutralize the play.
The Flames tied the game at 8:51 of the second period with the teams skating 4-on-4. Claude Giroux make a diving breakup of a pass inside the Flyers blueline. Moments later, Philly got caught in a bad line-change. The deadly Gaudreau was open from one of favorite shooting spots near the right faceoff dot and Monahan threaded a feed right into Johnny Hockey's wheelhouse. Getting rid of the puck quickly and torquing so much on the follow-through that he actually fell to the ice, Gaudreau sniped a goal upstairs as Hart attempted to slide over.
After Radko Gudas took a tripping penalty in the offensive zone at the expiration of the second period, the Flyers stepped up with a strong kill to start the third period: one of two kills for Philly in the final stanza.
At 5:57 of the third period, Rittich was caught way out of his net along the side boards after he came way out of his net to play the puck up the wall. Konecny hustled to intercept the puck. He then threaded a shot through some bodies into the vacated net. The goal was unassisted.
The Flames started to generate more push as the third period went along. Finally, Calgary generated a clean entry off the rush and Tkachuk got past Simmonds to flash into the slot, take a pass from Bennett and wire the puck past Hart at 15:43.
The game went overtime. Philadelphia played rather tentatively during the 3-on-3, having already lost five OT decisions this season; often on glaring breakdowns that gave the Flyers goaltender no fair chance at a save. Lo and behold it happened again.
Weal was unable to settle the puck and ultimately made a risky pass attempt intended for the point. The Flames' Tkachuk grabbed position and started a 2-on-1. Gostisbehere did not seal off the passing lane, ultimately opting instead to go to the puck-carrier. James van Riemsdyk started out backchecking to try to get back the play but let up on attempt. As a result, there was no one even in the vicinity by the time Brodie took a back-door pass from Tkachuk and beat the helpless Hart before he had a chance to get over.
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. The Flyers have reached the mid-point of the 2018-19 season. Now winless in six straight games (0-4-2), the team is mired at 15-20-6 overall for the season: 7-9-3 at home and 8-11-3 on the road.
The Flyers will hold practice at the Skate Zone on Sunday morning. On Monday, the Flyers host the St. Louis Blues at the Wells Fargo Center. The following night, the Flyers are on the road to play the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.