Wrap: Fast Start, Dramatic Comeback Lift Flyers to 5-4 OT Win vs. Arizona
The Philadelphia Flyers have a tendency to make like difficult on themselves but showed resiliency on Thursday night to pull out a 5-4 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes. The victory kicked off a five-game homestand and lifted the Flyers (8-7-1) above statistical .500 for the first time this season since their opening night win in Vegas.
From a Philly standpoint, was much to like about the Flyers' start and finish to the game and much to shake one's head over about what happened in between. The Flyers dominated play off the bat and roared out to a quick 2-0 lead (could easily have been 3-0). Then, as soon as they took their first penalty and gave up an opposing power play goal for the ninth straight game, the Flyers seemed to deflate for awhile despite taking a 2-1 lead to intermission.
In the second period, a bad Flyers change and a stoppable shot that found the net tied the game at 2-2. That was followed by the Flyers giving up two shorthanded goals on the same power play -- Arizona has now scored a staggering nine shorties in just over a month, while the Flyers have yielded four to opponents already this season. That brought about a change in goal, a mountain to climb the rest of the net and a major test of the Flyers' ability to handle adversity after a 3-0-1 road trip in which the team did not trail at any point in regulation.
Once the Flyers got back within 4-3 early in the third period, there was a palpable sense that they were going to find away to tie the game unless they got scored upon again. Sure enough, Philly got the game tied, and won it in OT.
Scott Laughton (5th and 6th goals of the season) was a tower of strength for his team after what by his admission was a so-so individual road trip for him. Dale Weise (1st goal of the season, 5th assist) scored a latter third period breakaway goal to force OT. Shayne Gostisbehere (3rd goal of the season, primary assist to spring Weise on the tying goal) scored the winner in OT to convert a great setup by Jakub Voracek (12th assist). Oskar Lindblom (5th assist) increased his personal point streak to five straight games. Claude Giroux earned his 12th and 13th assists of the season. Travis Konecny (3rd goal) opened the scoring.
Cal Pickard got the start in goal coming off a strong performance in Arizona on Monday. He stopped 14 of 18 shots before giving way to Brian Elliott. Coming in with no margin for error, Elliott stopped all 16 shots he faced, giving his team a chance to earn the win.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored a power play goal (2nd) for Arizona, triggered the second of the two Arizona shorthanders. He logged 27:18 of ice time on a night where the Coyotes were a man short on the blueline (an already banged-up Alex Goligoski left in the first period with a lower-body injury and did not return). OEL also had a half-dozen shots on goal and was credited with seven hits.
Brad Richardson (5th) scored the goal at 1:51 of the second period that tied the game at 2-2. Then Derek Stepan (4th) and Michael Grabner (4th) tallied shorthanded on the same PK to suddenly put the Coyotes in the driver's seat. The Flyers called a timeout.
Playing in place of injured star netminder Antti Raanta, Darcy Kuemper absorbed a second straight loss to the Flyers. He stopped 26 of 31 shots.
The Flyers finished the night a cumulative minus-three on special teams (0-for-4 on the power play with the two SHGAs. 1-for-2 on the PK) but outscored the Coyotes at five-on-five by a 4-1 count and then won in the 3-on-3 OT.
Starting a homestand and needing to get a strong opening to the game to stay away from the dreaded "first game back home curse" following a successful road trip, the Flyers could hardly have scripted the early game any better.
An Arizona neutral zone turnover was converted into a give-and-go goal with Giroux that was finished off by Konecny. Sean Couturier (3rd assist) started the sequence by collecting the puck in the neutral zone. An early Flyers power play generated strong pressure, and required Kuemper to make an outstanding save on Nolan Patrick to prevent a goal. When play moved back to five-on-five, persistence paid off for Laughton, who finished off a play in front for a 2-0 lead at 5:47.
As the first period progressed, however, the Flyers had to lean on Pickard to erase some defensive zone breakdowns. He came up with at least three huge saves on high-danger chances in front. However, Pickard was heavily screened on an Ekman-Larsson power play point shot and was beaten as the Coyotes cut their early deficit in half at 2-1.
The Flyers generated good puck movement for the early portion of their second power play. On the best opportunity, Claude Giroux had open short-side room but missed the net on a thundering one-timer. If that shot was on target, Kuemper would have had zero chance at a save.
Arizona tied the game at 1:51 of the second period on a transitional play that started with the Flyers caught on a change. Brad Richardson's right circle shot was one that Pickard might have liked to have back. The puck beat him low to the blocker side.
Disaster struck Philadelphia on their third power play of the game. On the Coyotes' shorthandert, Gostisbehere fumbled the puck at the blueline, went back to retrieve it and got tangled with a linesman's skate. Derek Stepan then soloed, scoring on a semi-breakaway to wash out a desperation delayed penalty on Gostisbehere. On the latter goal, Ivan Provorov and Wayne Simmonds collided and Grabner scored on the counterattack started by Ekman-Larsson. That ended Pickard's night.
The Flyers generated several good chances -- including a 2-on-1 opportunity -- over the latter part of the second period but struggled to put pucks on the net. After the Flyers were unsuccessful on a carryover power play to start the third period, Laughton potted a rebound in a scramble around the net to draw the Flyers back within 4-3 at 2:11. Weise and Lindblom got the helpers.
After much Flyers' pressure during the third period, Weise finally took a breakaway feed from Gostisbehere and went upstairs to tie the game at 4-4 at the 17:47 mark.
That set the stage for Ghost's dramatic OT winner after a great individual effort from Voracek. After being guilty of a costly OT turnover in the Flyers' last OT outing (in San Jose), Voracek was a man on a mission this time and was impossible to take off the puck before setting up Gostisbehere. Giroux earned the secondary assist.
The Flyers will practice on Friday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees at 11 a.m. ET. The following afternoon, they will host the Chicago Blackhawks at the Wells Fargo Center in a one o' clock matinee.