FFR2 Gm 30: OTT 3, PHI 4 - A Puncher's Chance
Clap your hands, everybody! For Philadelphia! Seventy Six-oh sorry, wrong team that won in the Wells Fargo Center Saturday, my bad.
The Philadelphia Flyers WIN 4-3 over the worst team at actual hockey but the best team at being dirty, the Ottawa Senators. Seriously, there's a difference between being physical, and there's what happened in this game. It wasn't 2005 bad, but this game got ugly at times.
This game had some similarities from the Flyers and Sens first meeting, final score aside. Just like in Ottawa a few weeks ago, the Flyers got off to a great start, with Travis Konecny burying a rebound goal less than two minutes in. This game also featured a lot of Anders Nilsson standing on his head and the Flyers power play failing to even be competent, let alone productive.
But there was a whole lot of other events and themes that shaped this game. First of all, Nilsson didn't even start this game. He came in around the seven minute mark, after the FOURTH goal of the game. Well, at the time it was the fourth goal. And we haven't even got to the fights yet!
Let me explain.
Moments after Konecny started the scoring, the Senators responded as Brady Tkachuk Tka-tipped in a beautiful center pass from J.G. Pageau. Ottawa then took a penalty, and rather than trotting out the Flyers struggling power play, Shayne Gostisbehere took care of business himself, one-timing a kick pass from Tyler Pitlick past Anderson's blocker. Then, Oskar Lindblom "scored" on a bank-shot (that was called back for offsides), and Anderson came up gingerly, leaving the game with an injury.
Despite all of the early offense, the game took a quick old school tone late in the 1st period. Noted crime stopper Mark Borowiecki laid a borderline hit on Travis Konecny, causing TK to go down and leave the game with an upper-body injury (he wouldn't return). That resulted in a series of hits in the final 5 minutes, including a big one by Niskanen on Brady Tkachuk. The chaos appeared to culminate with a late fight between Jake Voracek and Nick Paul.
In reality, it was far from over. Joel Farabee and Pageau got into the second scrap of the game 19 seconds into the second (the Flyers had three fights all season entering this game). All of the fights were exciting, but they also masked a growing issue - the Flyers weren't playing all that well. Ottawa generated nearly 80% of the expected goals during the 1st period and 60% of the shot attempts at 5-on-5.
But hold up, the Flyers are going on the power play with about 8 minutes to go, maybe this is where they'll change the momentum of the game. Sure enough, the Flyers did just that - but not in the right way. Carter Hart made a mistake playing the puck, attempting to leave it for Shayne Gostisbehere but instead turning it over to Anthony Duclair, leading to a short-handed wrap-around goal that tied the game 2-2.
To Hart's credit, he buckled down after that, making some great stops late in the period (even one or two more on that same Flyers power play Duclair scored on). The Flyers were probably a little lucky to be tied after a frustrating first forty minutes. But despite their mistakes, the game was still up for grabs entering the third period.
And the Flyers had no intentions of letting the Senators take control. Less than four minutes in, Joel Farabee tipped the puck to Ivan Provorov with a head full of steam charging through the neutral zone. The Senators defense was caught flat-footed, allowing Provorov to walk in and snipe glove side on Nilsson for his 7th goal of the year, putting the Flyers back ahead 3-2!
The Flyers tried to pull away in the moments after the Provorov goal, but the Senators hung around, refusing to go away, waiting for the Flyers to make a mistake. Sure enough, the smooth skating Thomas Chabot took advantage of a slow Flyers line change and gained the offensive zone with just over 5 minutes to go. Chabot swept all the way below the goal-line, then dished a slick centering pass that Duclair chipped top shelf, nicking Hart's en route to hitting twine.
Unbelievable. Just can't happen. I'm sorry, Flyers, but this is the 3rd worst team in the Eastern Conference, they already beat you once this year, you better have something up your sleeve-oh, we retook the lead already?
Just eleven seconds after Duclair's second goal, the Flyers turned a routine board battle in the neutral zone into a 2-on-1 rush. Kevin Hayes launched the initial shot, which Nilsson kicked out with his right pad...right on to the tape of Scott Laughton, who slammed home the lose puck, shutting up the Ottawa Senators (literally - he went over to the bench afterwards and told Brady Tkachuk some choice words), giving the Flyers a 4-3 lead!
This time, the Flyers handled their one goal lead well, keeping the Senators to the outside even with their goalie pulled and not allowing Ottawa to generate many quality chances. And then, with about 30 seconds left and the puck in Sens control at center ice, Brady Tkachuk decided to take the game into his own hands.
And score the tying goal? No, no, he's not Matthew. No, Brady saw Scotty Chirps on the ice and decided to give him a cross-check. Laughton went down, as one does when being cross-checked, and the ref correctly signaled a penalty. Seeing this, and knowing that this penalty had likely cost the Senators the game, Brady decided to get his money's worth. He ripped off his gloves and jumped on Laughton, pushing his Scott's head into the ice.
I'm sorry, what? You know what player I'd expect this kind of thing from? Brad Marchand. Is that really who you want to model your on-ice etiquette after, Brady? Tkachuk received two penalties on the play (one for the cross-check, one for the jumping), and frankly, I think he deserves some supplemental discipline from Player Safety (though I doubt anything will actually happen to him). It was a straight up dirty play, and after that, forget how they played, the Senators deserved to lose this game.
It wasn't their best game. But it was good enough to keep the good mojo going. The Flyers returned to 5th in the entire NHL with today's victory. We're past the "small sample size" point in the season. My eyes say they're playing well. The standings say they're playing well. The analytics say they're playing well. That could change, especially if TK is out long-term (fingers crossed he's fine). But after last year's Murphy's Law season, man does this feel good.
Scott Laughton's goal held up as the game-winner, the second of his NHL career, both coming against Ottawa (the other came on March 11, 2019).
The Flyers improved to a stellar 9-1-5 in one-goal games with Saturday's victory.
For as bad as the Flyers power play, Ottawa's is somehow even worse. It was 0-for-3 today, falling to 9.6%. It's only scored NINE times this season, fewer than everybody except Anaheim (8).
While the Flyers power play hasn't been generating nearly enough offense over the last month, they have cleaned up their shorthanded goals problem. From 2015-2019, the Flyers allowed 38 shorthanded goals, tied for second most in the NHL. Duclair's shortie today was the first one they've allowed all year.
A lot of the time, you hear that players don't love afternoon games because it changes their routine and things of that nature. But the Flyers have certainly enjoyed them this year, going 3-1-0 in afternoon contests.
After a bit of a slow return from his broken finger (which he's wearing extra protection for, the reason he didn't fight Tkachuk), Scott Laughton has been on-fire lately. In addition to his great PK work, Laughts has four goals and six points in his last six games.
On the other hand, after two weeks of great chance creation but constantly being snakebitten, Morgan Frost finally returned to the scoresheet with a deflection that lead to the Konecny goal. It's his first point in 8 games after scoring 3 points in his first 2 NHL games.
Brady Tkachuk is officially a Flyers killer, and not just because of what he did to Laughton. He's now got five goals and seven points in five career games against the Flyers.
Injury updates: good news and bad news. Phil Myers left the game late because of back spasms, but he's the good news because AV didn't seem too concerned about him post-game. However, Travis Konecny officially suffered an upper-body injury, which after seeing the hit, probably means a concussion (but that is NOT confirmed). The Flyers will have a further update on him Monday.
If Konecny is too hurt to play, the good news is the Flyers have just one game in the next six days. That's Wednesday, but it does come against one of the top teams in the NHL in Colorado. The Flyers then have a weekend back-to-back against red-hot Minnesota and Winnipeg. Ideally, Konecny would be ready by then, but you can't rush a concussion.
POG Helmet Standings Update!
Raff, Steady Eddie Nisky, Moose, TK (Prayers) - 2
Starter, JVR, Lindy, Coots, Phil, Frosty, Jake, Pits, Scotty Laughts - 1
1st - Scott Laughton (PHI) - Game-Winning Goal
2nd - Anthony Duclair (OTT) - 2 Goals, 71.42% xGF
3rd - Ivan Provorov (PHI) - Goal, 26:25 TOI, 52.78 CF%, 56% xGF
OTT - 12/9 vs. BOS (20-3-6, OTL1)
PHI - 12/10 @ COL (18-8-2, W5)