Wrap: Kings Snap Flyers Winning Streak in 3-2 SO Decision
Lucky to claim even one point, teased that they'd earned two: That was how Thursday night's game at the Wells Fargo Center went for the Flyers. The Flyers rallied back from a pair of one-goal deficits to force overtime, including a game-tying goal by Jakub Voracek with 18 seconds left in the third period.
After a scoreless OT, the Flyers momentarily thought they had won the shootout when third-round shooter Adrian Kempe fired a shot that hit underneath the crossbar. However, replays quickly showed the puck went into the underside of the top of the net; a good goal. The shootout continued and the Kings went on to win, 3-2, on a Tyler Toffoli goal.
The Flyers goals were scored by Sean Couturier (22nd) and Voracek (13th). Claude Giroux earned his 41st and 42nd assists of the season. Ivan Provorov (14th assist) and Shayne Gostisbehere (17th assist) picked up one helper apiece. Giroux and Nolan Patrick were successful on their shootout attempts.
"We gave ourselves a chance. We kept battling earlier. First half of the game, I thought we gave away a lot of breakaways and odd man rushes. We weren’t sharp on details, but after that, whatever the score was, Stolie gave us the chance. He made us believe and we battled back to get a big point. Down the road, it might be huge," Couturier said.
Anthony Stolarz was excellent in goal in a losing cause, stopping three breakaways and a host of other tough chances in a 37-save performance. He was 3-for-6 in the shootout.
"At this stage though, we’re going to need these two-point games. We’re going to start playing our division and there should be four-point swings. We’re just going to have to bear down. Like you said, we got the one point and we’re happy with that, but at the end of the day we’re not totally satisfied," Stolarz said.
For LA, Austin Wagner (5th) and Kempe (9th) scored in regulation. Kyle Clifford (2nd assist), Sean Walker (3rd assist), Brendan Leipsic (11th assist) and Toffoli (14th assist) collected one helper apiece. Ilya Kovalchuk, Kempe and Toffoli scored in the shootout.
Jonathan Quick earned the win in goal. He stopped 30 of 32 shots in regulation and OT. Quick went 4-for-6 in the shootout.
At times during Thursday's game, especially in the latter part of the first period and early in the second, the Flyers had trouble navigating LA's layered 1-1-3 neutral zone forecheck.
"They pretty much played to get four guys between the red and the blue line and if you’re coming pace and you’re ideally trying to play above their second layer. It makes it harder for them to defend and we didn’t do enough of that consistently. We didn’t identify the opportunities to advance to the puck before they could even get set up into their forecheck, and as a result a lot of times we were looking up and we didn’t have the support. Say if we passed the puck up to where he deflected it in the guy was supposed to go in on the forecheck was too far away from the puck where it went it," Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon said.
"There were a lot of things, but you fall into that mode sometimes thinking you’ve got a lot of time because they don’t pressure down the ice as much as maybe some other teams, and it’s not that it’s impossible to penetrate that situation, but you’ve got to be smarter and not beat yourself with it."
Added Shayne Gostisbehere, "I’d say they kind of invited us, baited us, to go in to the middle and then they converge on us in the middle. I mean, that’s their style. They want you to make plays at the offensive blue line, they force turnovers to come down. I think for us, just a simple game, getting pucks deep, going to work, worked for us a little there in the third."
A misread by Gostisbehere on an LA chip-and-chase entry cost the Flyers the first goal of the game at 8:46 of the opening period. Austin Wagner was able to walk right down broadway, take a feed from Kyle Clifford and score upstairs on Anthony Stolarz. The Flyers goaltender late stopped one breakaway and got some help from his goal post/crossbar on the second as he got a piece of the puck. First period shots were 18-11 in LA's favor.
On the goal that knotted the game a 1-1, Couturier took a diving pass from Giroux in the low slot. With time and space to make a play, Couturier backhanded home a shot past Jonathan Quick at 7:00 of the second period.
The Flyers played with fire repeatedly during the game in giving up odd-man rushes. They paid the price at 12:33 as Kempe scored on a 2-on-1 rush to restore a lead for LA at 2-1. The sequence started with Gostisbehere attempting to pinch up into the left circle. Michael Raffl's pass intended for "Ghost" was tipped away, leaving Gostisbehere caught up ice. Brendean Leipsic completed the 2-on-1 pass defended by Radko Gudas, and Kempe fired the puck into the open side of the net.
A would-be goal by Couturier was disallowed at the end of the second period because it was scored right after the clock hit 0.0, Couturier was in the act of shooting when time expired on the second period. The puck went upstairs over Quick into the net but was immediately disallowed.
The two teams traded off shots that hit the post early in the third period. One by Jakub Voracek danced across the crease and stayed out of the net. Persistence paid for the Flyers as they attacked 6-on-5 with Stolarz pulled for an extra attacker. Taking a pass from Giroux, Voracek sniped a goal to the short-side top shelf to tie the game with 17 seconds left and secure a point for Philly.
LA controlled the first faceoff in OT and enjoyed a lengthy puck possession advantage but the Flyers' man-to-man coverage was good.Later, with 57.8 seconds left, Konecny hit the post -- the third time the Flyers drew iron in the game. With 14.1 seconds left, Stolarz made the second of two saves in close on Kempe --- without a stick. The game went to a shootout, and LA prevailed.
"I don’t think we even deserved a point today. I think it was our weakest game out of our last nine. We got lucky to get one point to be honest with you," Voracek said.
"We were reaching for the pucks instead of taking one more step and just swinging at the pucks and turning them over instead of taking just one more step. I think that was our problem in the first period, we got a little better in the second, and we had a few opportunities in the third. Overall the game was sloppy. Like I said, good point for us, but I think we are in the state of the season where we can’t afford to have starts like that. Obviously it’s going to happen, we’re not always going to play as sharp as we did the last few games but it was just unfortunate. We just have to make sure we are way better on Saturday."
The Flyers winning streak ended at eight games but their point streak is now at nine games (8-0-1). The team will hold practice on Friday in Voorhees before hosting the Anaheim Ducks at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon.