Flyers fall to Coyotes, 4-3 in overtime

The Flyers experienced their first loss of the season on Saturday, a 4-3 decision to the Arizona Coyotes. Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored the game-winner overtime.

Much like the game in Los Angeles the previous night, the Flyers started poorly. But unlike their victory over the Kings, Philadelphia was unable to seize total control of the game as their comeback effort fell short. Shane Doan put Arizona on the board first just under nine minutes into the first period. He put a backhand rebound past Steve Mason, who was playing his first game of the season. Michal Neuvirth started the previous night against Los Angeles. The goal was reviewed, but eventually upheld with no apparent evidence of goaltender interference.

The Flyers were able to respond three minutes later as Michael Raffl deflected a point shot from Nick Schultz to tie the game, but Arizona answered shortly after. Rookie defenseman Jakob Chychrun rushed into the zone and followed his own missed shot. His wrap around came to Martin Hanzal who buried the rebound to give Arizona a 2-1 lead entering the second period.

The Flyers were very undisciplined all night, especially in the first. Three of their six penalties occured in the first period and Arizon was able to capitalize. Two of those penalties were infractions for too many men on the ice, something that is sure to make Head Coach Dave Hakstol upset. And although the Coyotes committed four penalties of their own, the Flyers were unable to make them pay. In fact, the Coyotes managed to capitalize short-handed.

Just seventeen seconds into the second period, Shayne Gostisbehere and Brandon Manning turned it over at their own blue line. Brad Richardson came in on a breakaway and beat Steve Mason to give Arizona a 3-1 lead.

While the slow start undoubtedly put the Flyers in an early hole, they were able to mount a comeback in the second half of the game.

Just over six minutes into the second period, Claude Giroux made and excellent deke at the Coyotes blue line to enter the zone and fire a shot towards goalie Mike Smith. Wayne Simmonds was there to bury the rebound and cut the deficit to 3-2. Throughout the night, Giroux was much more active on the ice. He had noticeably more room to operate, not being shadowed by Anze Kopitar like the previous game.

The Flyers managed to tie the game in the 3rd period. With fifteen minutes and change left, Brandon Manning and Travis Konecny moved the puck up the ice on two good stretch passes to Matt Read, who beat Mike Smith on a backhand for his first goal of the season. Read’s goal would send the game to overtime. Konecny, who registered two assists the previous night against the Kings, was not as dominant in this contest. The Coyotes were noticeable more physical with the rookie.  While it seemed to bother Konecny early in the game, he was able to shake it off and generate chances in the last two periods.

As the game went to overtime, the Flyers dominated the inital part of the extra session. Despite a number of strong chances, they were unable to score the game winner particularly because of this excellent save by Mike Smith. Shortly after, the Flyers committed a penalty, allowing the Coyotes an extra attacker in overtime. Oliver Ekman-Larsson came in from the blue line and beat a sliding Mason for the game winner before the penalty was ever enforced.

Overall, the Flyers started slow like they did against the Kings in their season opener, but were unable to recover. Much of the last two periods were spent trading chances with Arizona rather than controlling the pace. The six penalties are obviously an area of concern moving forward. But they did show resolve by fighting back from a two goal deficit and earning a point by getting the game overtime. Their next game be against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night.

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