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  • Andrew McGuinness

FFR2 Gm 3: PHI 2, VAN 3 (SO) - Vanlosers


So much for the undefeated season.

For the first time in the 2019-20 campaign, the Philadelphia Flyers lose, shootout style (what a shock!) to the Vancouver Canucks.

It would have been nice if the Flyers had waited a little longer before taking their first L of the year, but this was hardly a poor showing. Both teams held their own through 40 minutes, then the Flyers, down 1 in the 3rd, pushed hard. They tie the game late, and nearly won it even later. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

It didn’t take long for the Canucks, coming off an 8-2 thrashing of Los Angeles in their home opener, to start the scoring. 5 minutes in, Elias Pettersson tipped a routine point shot from Chris Tanev, creating chaos in front. Hart made the initial save, but the tip prevented him from controlling the rebound. Instead of being smothered, the puck popped out to Brock Boeser, who bested Hart with the second shot to starting the scoring for the home team.

The Canucks took that lead into 1st intermission, as it was took a long time for the game to really get going. The teams combined for just 13 shots on goal in the 1st, with Philly’s only chance coming on a backdoor one-timer from Voracek that was robbed by Markstrom. But moments after a Flyers power play expired, noted not breakout liability Justin Braun made an excellent stretch pass from his own zone.

The winger who got the puck proceeded to charge up the left side on the ice and fire a shot with such accuracy that his namesake at the Linc would be impressed. Carsen Twarynski SNIPES gloveside on Markstrom for his 1st career NHL goal, tying the game 1-1!

While it was the Braun pass that made it happen, Twarynski certainly deserved that goal. The rookie has looked ready for the NHL in almost all areas, carrying over his strong preseason play. What the Flyers probably didn’t deserve was to give Vancouver the lead right back. Once again, a Tanev shot was deflected in front - this time, a tip from Tanner Pearson was all it took to beat Hart, putting Vancouver on top.

Despite several odd-man rushes and some sloppy mistakes by the Flyers, the shot clock was almost identical and the game was still up for grabs going into 3rd. It was here the Flyers began to take control. I don’t know if it was a great speech by Vigneault or score effects or just dumb luck, but the Flyers dominated the 3rd period. Philadelphia was winning races and battles, getting pucks to the net, and wrecking havoc on Vancouver’s breakout attempts.

In previous years, this would’ve led to a backbreaking goal by the opposition and a frustrating 4-1 loss. But Hart stoned Pearson on a great chance from the slot, and shortly thereafter, Michael Raffl drew a penalty on Jordie Benn. Once again, the second unit got the job done. Matt Niskanen made a deft move across the blue line to set the play up, then dropping the puck to TK at the right circle. With everyone looking for him to shoot, the Flyers leading scorer sent a backdoor pass to set up a game-tying Oskar Lindbomb with just over 5 minutes to go!

Even better, the Flyers kept attacking for the rest of the period and darn-near won the game in regulation. Arguably the Flyers two best chances of the period came after the Lindblom goal. Markstrom stopped a Giroux wrister from the slot, barely falling on top of the rebound, and then was beaten by a Travis Sanheim that clanged off the post in the final minute.

Overtime didn't go quite as smoothly. Vancouver had the puck for the majority of the first three and a half minutes, culminating in a breakaway for Bo Horvat. Hart made the save, but Couturier was called for a questionable throwing the stick penalty when he tried to break up the pass, giving Vancouver a golden chance to end the game. However, critical shot blocks from Scott Laughton and Robert Hagg allowed the Flyers to survive (even when Laughton's stick broke, turning the PP into a de facto 4-on-2).

Unfortunately, that means the game would be determined in the crapshoot-I mean the shootout, sorry. It apparently turned into a game of H-O-R-S-E. Boeser and Voracek missed on similar backhanders. Pettersson and Giroux scored on identical backhand-forehand dekes. Tanner Pearson beat Hart five-hole to put the Canucks on top, and Coots decided to make his own move, going to his forward, but was denied by an outstretched Markstrom. Game over.

While the result of Saturday's game wasn't ideal, there are a lot of positives to take from this game. For one, Carter Hart played pretty well, stopping 22 of 24 shots and keeping the Flyers within one goal the whole game. Twarynski is the obvious feel good story, a guy who most didn't think had a chance of making the team looking good and lighting the lamp. Travis Konency had another point, his 6th in three games this season. Something tells me he's breaking the 50 mark for the first time ever (and 60 plus doesn't seem out of the question).

But it's the third period that really caught my eye. Granted, you'd expect a team trailing late in the game to drive play (that's basically the definition of score effects) - but not to the consistent extent the Flyers did. It was a tremendous effort, and if this game had been played in Philly, they would have received a standing ovation. It's a far cry from the monotone just do your job and take shots from the point mantra of Dave Hakstol's reign. Not only does it look better, like they're trying harder (and better), the early returns are strong. The Flyers are beginning to shape their identity, and it feels like they'll have one that makes it easy for Philadelphians to fall in love with.

Game Notes

If you're looking for a negative from the first three games (and let's face it, you're a Philly fan - you know you are), Jake Voracek has struggled mightily. Yes, he did have a great chance of the power play Saturday, but other than that, Jake has been largely invisible thus far. He received just 14 and a half minutes on Saturday, his lowest single game total since the 2015-16 season (per NBCSP's Jordan Hall).

One Flyer who has been playing well but also hasn't produced (yet) is James van Riemsdyk. The Flyers broadcast mentioned van Riemsdyk had generated 10 scoring chances over the course of the Flyers first three games (and that was before another decent look on a backhander on the PP). His stellar 68.49 Corsi For% and 64.16 xG% suggest the points are on the way.

One moment of frustration during this game - late in the 3rd period, with the Flyers still down one, Vancouver's Tyler Myers lost his helmet battling in front with JVR. One of the NHL's new rules states that he must either put the helmet back on or go to the bench within a reasonable amount of time. Instead, Myers skated into the corner and checked (and maybe swung at?) JVR. Vigneault was irate at the officials for not making a call, as he should have been. It was a clear mistake.

Lindblom's goal was the first power play goal allowed by the Canucks all season. They had killed off their first twelve penalties to that point.

While everyone remembers Twarynski's preseason for his effort on the forecheck and in corners and that one highlight reel goal out of mid-air, the 2016 3rd rounder has been creating chances consistently. This dates back to preseason, when he led the Flyers with 18 shots. Congrats again on goal number one of many (and to Justin Braun for getting his 1st Flyers point on this goal)!

3 Stars

1st - Jacob Markstrom (VAN) - .938 SV% (30 Saves/32 Shots)

2nd - Carsen Twarynski (PHI) - 1st NHL Goal

3rd - Christopher Tanev (VAN) - 2 Assists, 51.85 xG%

Next

PHI - 10/15 @ CGY (2-2-1)

VAN - 10/15 vs. DET (3-2-0)

*Advanced Stats from NaturalStatTrick.com